Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum believe that carnivorous behaviour in plants is far more widespread than previously thought, with many commonly grown plants – such as petunias – at least part way to being “meat eaters”. A review paper, Murderous plants: Victorian Gothic, Darwin and modern insights into vegetable carnivory, is published today (4 December 2009) in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.
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Plants like petunias and potatoes have sticky hairs that trap insects, and some species of campion have the common name catchfly for the same reason. However, some of the commonly accepted carnivores have not been demonstrated to have the ability to digest the insects they trap or to absorb the breakdown products. In their paper, Chase et al. review each of the groups of potential carnivores.