Tasmania’s Flesh Eating Plants

Beautiful yet deadly

You may have heard of insect-catching plants like the Venus fly trap but have you ever come across the infamous flesh-eating plants of Tasmania?

The southern island boasts an impressive array of carnivorous plants that will eat insects and any small prey that they can get their carnivorous florets on - but not anything as big as a human so you can tread safely in the Tasmanian bush.

Darren Cullen from Tasmania collects the flesh eating plants. His impressive assortment include the popular and common as well as the rare and endemic.

We get people travelling here to see Tasmanian carnivorous plants. We have two genera of carnivorous plants here, Drosera and Utricularia, otherwise known as sundews and bladderworts. You grow bladderworts for their amazing flowers as the traps are underground.

The flesh-eating plants are technically endangered in Tasmania but are commonly found around Victoria and in parts of New Zealand. 

What flesh do these plants eat?

Sundews, one of the state’s most sought after carnivores, are known for their glandular tentacles that are covered in a sticky liquid secretion. Their prey, which mostly consists of insects are attracted to the sweet smell of the sticky liquid that the plant secretes. Once this liquid is touched by their prey, they become trapped in the sticky mucus and die from asphyxiation as it envelops them.

The tentacles can move in accordance with their prey’s movements.

Tasmania’s other unique carnivorous flora, the bladderwort has been described as having one of the most sophisticated predatory systems found in the plant kingdom. They have a vacuum-driven bladder shaped like a broad bean. Similar to the Sundew, the Bladderwort’s bladder excretes a sticky, sweet mucus which attracts prey. The bladder acts as trapdoor, and seal once prey ventures inside.

Image: Bladderwort's bladder, shutterstock

So where’s the best place to spot Carnivorous flora?

The best places to see Tasmania’s flesh eaters are in the South of Tasmania, in the Hartz Mountains, where there are thousands of the Drosera Murfetti plants.

Tasmania’s carnivorous plants are in high demand all over the world by exotic plant collectors.

It's not so much the plant itself, but where it's from, there may be a subtle variation which different regions produce; this is what makes them so desirable.

Tasmania has around 18 different species of carnivorous plants, however, according to Cullen, this number is debated among specialists.

The 18 species are spread between the two genera, but the exact total is always debatable and in a state of flux as taxonomists argue and move plants around between species, subspecies, varieties and cultivars.

Header: The Sundew plant, Shutterstock

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