Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 26, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 10



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 26, 2013 



ANNIE: #A4530937 

Happy Tails

by Chris Leclerc

As naive as it may sound to some, there are times when I catch myself thinking of 
trees and plants as inanimate objects. While I know they are living organisms that feed us, 
help keep our air clean, and make the world around us far more beautiful than it would be 
without them, it is easy to forget that they are indeed as much alive as I am. I guess it’s because they are so still and calm. They don’t voice 
their opinions, the way humans and other animals do. The fact is, some of the living and breathing green fauna that we tend to take for 
granted growing around us is much more animated than we’d like to think. Indeed, some plant varieties are actually very active and very 
aware of the living, moving insects and other creatures they share their space with.

 Plants that prey on bugs and small animals are the ones that fascinate me the most. For example, how amazing is the beast-like behavior 
of the Venus fly-trap? I remember seeing “Little Shop of Horrors” for the first time, and thinking the concept of a predator-like plant was 
nothing more than a figment of some very creative screen-writer’s imagination, until I learned that those animal-like plants really do 
exist. I recently read a narrative posted on the Botanical Society of America’s website:, all about plants that prey on foods 
other than nutrients found in water and soil. I hope you find it as interesting and fascinating as I did.

 Carnivorous plants have the most bizarre adaptations to low-nutrient environments. These plants obtain some nutrients by trapping 
and digesting various invertebrates, and occasionally even small frogs and mammals. Because insects are one of the most common prey 
items for most carnivorous plants, they are sometimes called insectivorous plants. It is not surprising that the most common habitat for 
these plants is in bogs and fens, where nutrient concentrations are low but water and sunshine seasonally abundant. As many as thirteen 
species of carnivorous plants have been found in a single bog (Folkerts, 1982). Most plants absorb nitrogen from the soil through their 
roots. But carnivorous plants absorb nitrogen from their animal prey through their leaves specially modified as traps.

 Traps work in a variety of ways. Pitfall traps of pitcher plants are leaves folded into deep, slippery pools filled with digestive enzymes. 
Flypaper (or sticky or adhesive traps) of sundews and butterworts are leaves covered in stalked glands that exude sticky mucilage. Snap 
traps (or steel traps) of the Venus flytrap and waterwheel plant are hinged leaves that snap shut when trigger hairs are touched. Suction 
traps, unique to bladderworts, are highly modified leaves in the shape of a bladder with a hinged door lined with trigger hairs. Lobster-
pot traps of corkscrew plants are twisted tubular channels lined with hairs and glands.

 Carnivorous plants are fascinating because, even when they are not trapping insects, their unusual forms are intriguing. However, 
you should not collect plants in the wild because most of them are relatively rare. Habitat destruction and over collection are two of 
the greatest conservation threats to carnivorous plants. If you are interested in growing carnivorous plants in your home or classroom, 
purchase the plants from a reputable grower who uses tissue culture or vegetative means to grow the plant, or starts them from seeds.

We now know that the carnivorous habit evolved independently in many plant lineages (Albert et al., 1992; Ellison and Gotelli, 2001; 
Cameron et al., 2002; Muller et al., 2004). Pitfall traps evolved independently in four plant groups (the eudicot orders Caryophyllales, 
Oxalidales, Ericales, and the monocot family Bromeliaceae), and sticky traps, in at least three (the Caryophyllales, Ericales, and Lamiales). 
These are examples of convergent evolution. In contrast, the snap trap and lobster-pot traps evolved only once among carnivorous plants.

 Carnivorous plants have features to attract, trap, kill, and digest prey, and absorb nutrients. A number of plants have only some of these 
characteristics. Glands that secrete sticky substances are found in many plants. Pitcher-like tanks are common in bromeliads and 
in few other plants. While perhaps not fully fledged sticky traps or pitfall traps, these features hint of the potential for carnivory. The list 
of plants described as near carnivorous, protocarnivorous, or borderline carnivorous is quite diverse, including Ibicella lutea (Mameli, 
1916), Dipsacus (Christy, 1923), Passiflora foetida (Radhamani et al., 1995), Paepalanthus bromeloides (Jolivet, 1998), and Geranium 
viscosissimum and Potentilla arguta (Spomer, 1999). No single definitive list exists. Ibicella lutea, which has not been studied since 1916 
(Juniper et al., 1989), is sometimes listed as carnivorous, and Catopsis berteroniana is sometimes described as borderline. The ability to 
digest prey and absorb the amino acids is considered the real clincher.

 Carnivory is more widespread than just the plant and animal kingdoms. The fungi kingdom has flesh eaters also (Pramer, 1964). Living 
in the soil are over 200 species of fungi (identified as zygomycetes, basidiomycetes, and hyphomycetes) that use special structures to trap 
nematodes. Like carnivorous plants, these fungi have the ability to trap 
prey and to absorb nutrients from the body of their prey. The traps of 
fungi come in two general types: constricting rings (active traps) and 
adhesive structures (passive traps). These trap types occur in separate 
fungi lineages (Ahren et al., 1998).

 Exploring and learning more about the amazing world of carnivorous 
plant life somehow gave me a much wider perspective on how I view 
the greenery that surrounds me and makes our world the fascinating 
planet that it is. Lately I even find myself talking out loud to the trees 
and flowers I pass by while walking through the neighborhood. It’s nice 
to know you’re never alone, even when your 2-legged and 4-legged 
friends are not around, because after all, trees and plants are people 

Meet little orphan Annie (A4530937)! Annie is a soulful 
nine month old red female Dachshund/Beagle mix puppy 
who was found in West Covina on January 5th and brought 
to the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Weighing 
twenty-one pounds, this affable girl walks okay on the leash 
but could use some additional training. Annie absolutely 
adores children and is good with other dogs. Annie has 
personality to spare and will make an enthusiastic playmate 
and best friend for anyone in any living situation! She’s a 
great puppy! To watch a video of Annie please visit: www. 

 To meet Annie in person, please see her at the Baldwin Park 
Animal Care Center, located at 4275 N. Elton St., Baldwin 
Park, CA 91706 (Phone: 626-430-2378 or 626-962-3577). 
She is currently available now. For any inquiries about 
Annie, please reference her animal ID number: A4530937. 
The shelter is open seven days a week, 12 pm-7 pm Monday-
Thursday and 10am-5pm Friday-Sunday. This is a high-
intake shelter with a great need for adoptions. For more 
information about Annie or the adoption process, please 
contact United Hope for Animals Volunteer Adoption 
Coordinator Samantha at 
To learn more about United Hope for Animals’ partnership 
with the Baldwin Park Shelter through its Shelter Support 
Program, as well as the many dogs of all breeds, ages, and 
sizes available for adoption in local shelters, visit http://

Support Rhae Rhae's Rescue 
Train and Marina Sanctuary 
Buy raffle tickets for an Avon gift bas-
ket, donated by Lisa Samaniego 
The value of the gift basket exceeds $50 
Purchase tickets by mail by cash/check to 
P O Box 971 
South Pasadena, CA 91031 
Include note with name and phone number so we can 
contact you if you win. Prices are $1 each 
6 for $5 
20 for $10 
50 for $20 
We will also be selling tickets in the Monrovia/Duarte 
area, with the prize basket available for viewing. 
Email us for location information, or with questions: 
DRAWING IS FEBRUARY 7th, in time for Valentine's 
Day!!! Winner needn't be present to win. If you buy 
some raffle tickets, YOU WILL SAVE LIVES!