Triphyophyllum - Carnivorous plant

Triphyophyllum - Carnivorous plant

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The Triphyophyllum they are carnivorous plants that capture their prey by means of


that bog down the prey.

In the genre Triphyophyllum (family Dioncophyllaceae) we find only one la Triphyophyllumpeltatum, with adhesive trap.This plant is normally considered a liana, but in its juvenile phase it has carnivorous habits probably due to a specific need for nutrients for its growth.

Sarracenia leucophylla plants, like all sarracenia, are characterized by tubular leaves, called "ascidia" which can vary in height from 20 to 120 cm.
The plant grows from spring to autumn, a period in which it goes into winter rest, no longer producing ascidia.
With the advent of spring, from the rhizome the flowers that are dark red will sprout first and only then the first ascidia, in order to allow the pollinating insects to complete their task and not risk being captured before the pollination occurred.

Ascidian of Sarracenia leucophylla (photo Michele Fiordellisi)

Ascidio di Sarracenia leucophylla (By Rhododendrites - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


  • 1 Trapping mechanisms
    • 1.1 Pitfall traps
    • 1.2 Flypaper traps
    • 1.3 Snap traps
    • 1.4 Bladder traps
    • 1.5 Lobster-pot traps
    • 1.6 Combination traps
    • 1.7 Borderline carnivores
  • 2 Evolution
  • 3 Ecology and modeling of carnivory
  • 4 Conservation threats
  • 5 Classification
    • 5.1 Dicots
    • 5.2 Monocots
  • 6 Cultivation
  • 7 Medicinal uses
  • 8 Cultural depictions
  • 9 References
  • 10 Further reading
  • 11 External links

General characteristics

Carnivorous plants are herbaceous plants, which in response to the lack of nutrients typical of their habitat, have adapted to obtain nutrients from the digestion of animal proteins. These are captured by means of efficient traps which generally derive from modified leaves.

The first to coin the term "carnivorous plant"was Francis Ernest Lloyd in 1942. Since these plants not only feed on insects, but also on other arthropods or other small animals, it was considered more correct to use the term of carnivorous plants.

They live in extreme environments such as peat bogs and in acidic and calcium-free soils, with a very low concentration of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium.

Carnivorous plants have rather small roots in relation to the size of the plants. This is due to the fact that the plant spends more energy on "building" traps and producing digestive enzymes, rather than increasing root biomass. In this way, the task of absorbing nitrogen and other nutrients is entrusted to the leaves rather than the roots.

They are generally perennials, although there are also annuals. Many live for only a few years, while others can form colonies by forming stolons.

They are weak competitors to other plants. If, for example, their habitat undergoes drastic changes, such as drying out, they are promptly replaced by non-carnivorous plants, much more efficient in carrying out photosynthesis in "normal" environments than carnivores.

Entrapment mechanisms

Carnivorous plants have developed five different types of traps to capture the organisms they feed on. These are:

  • Ascidian traps: prey are trapped inside a jug-shaped leaf, containing digestive enzymes and / or bacteria
  • Adhesive traps: capture occurs through a sticky mucilage secreted by the leaves
  • Snap or leg traps: following the detection of a possible prey by means of sensitive parts, a rapid movement of the leaves immobilizes it inside them
  • Suction traps: the prey is sucked into a bladder-like structure, the utricle, inside which a pressure vacuum is generated
  • Trap traps: they have hairs that forcefully direct the prey inside the digestive organ.

These traps can also be classified as active or passive, based on the participation of the plant in the capture. For example, the plants of Triphyophyllum show a passive sticky trap, which secretes mucilage but is not accompanied by a movement or development of the leaves in response to prey capture. On the contrary the sticky traps of plants of the genus Drosera, are considered active due to the presence of leaves which, with a rapid cell growth, envelop the prey favoring its digestion.

It is interesting to note that the different types of traps are specialized in the capture of different types of prey: the plants with sticky traps capture small flying insects, those with an ascidian trap are able to prey on larger flying insects, while the leg trap it is suitable for capturing relatively large soil insects.

Video: Triphyophyllum peltatum the clandestine carnivorous plant


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