Ant nearing the tentacles of a carnivorous plant
Here is another one of my carnivorous babies, and I really do mean "baby" because this specimen is less than a year old. The Droseracapensis, more commonly known as the Cape Sundew. So named because it is native to the south western Cape region in South Africa. It is supposedly easy to grow -- except in the tropics. Either I just love a challenge or I'm a masochist.
The sundew was a favorite plant of Charles Darwin. In fact, it was he who proved the carnivorous nature of the plants and detailed how they captured their prey. They had previously been classified as herbal medicine for warts, lung ailments and intestinal problems among others. The sundews are covered with short hairs (a.k.a. tentacles or trichomes) with a ball of sticky liquid at the tip (that looks like dew). An insect can land on the leaf and get stuck. In the case of the D. capensis, the leaf wraps around the prey and makes enzymes to break it down.
uploaded to YouTube by The Shop of Horrors
The Cape Sundew has different forms. I think I have the Narrow form. The others are the Wide (wider leaf than the Narrow) and the Red (the plant is red all over). It also comes as a white cultivar or the "Albino".
The plant produces a five-petaled pink flower in the summer. I am not sure I am looking forward to this because I read that it is during the flowering period that the sundew is susceptible to aphids. Also, it self pollinates and produces many seeds, becoming classified as an invasive in some countries. Hmmm.
Sundews love the sun and can take full sun as long as it has adequate rain water. The best way to gauge its health is by the number of glistening "dew" and how sticky it looks. I think I need to water mine more. The tentacle tips don't really glisten and it certainly doesn't look mucoid (is there such a word?) enough.
The soil has to be soggy and on checking, my coco peat doesn't seem to be soggy enough.
No wonder it hasn't caught anything yet. The ant in the first picture? It crawled away unscathed.
For those of you interested to get your own plant and if you live in the UK and nearby, there's an advert for Hewitt-Cooper, a company selling carnivorous plants in the sidebar of Esther's Boring Garden Blog. Anyone who mentions the blog when they place an order gets a discount.
For those of you in the Asian region, there is the Pitcher Plant Farm.