Sabah. At the Mesilau Nature Resort, I joined a walk in the forest. The forest was like a green and muddy sauna. We were given high rubber boots to walk through the mud and walking sticks so we would be less apt to fall in the mud. A ranger led the walk and talked of the fauna and animals living there. What interested me most was the Pitcher Plants. Given their pitcher shape, open to the sky, they collect water so it made sense that they were called Pitcher Plants.
The pitcher’s rim has a scent that attracts ants and then intoxicates them so that the ants fall into the pitcher. The plant then secretes a liquid inside the pitcher that decomposes the ants, and then the plant absorbs them. The Pitcher Plant’s outside is dry and feels like hard plastic. The lip of the pitcher is ribbed and rubbery; the inside of the lip is serrated so if the ant is aware enough to attempt to crawl out, it is trapped. The pitcher has a canopy cover, no doubt the plant’s way of showing some respect for the ant’s dignity. The reddish colored pitchers grow off the end of green plants with green rounded leaves. Perhaps the pitchers wear red, like the Massai, to show they do not fear blood.
The forest had so many different types of plants and animals. Lovely orchids set perfectly still along the forest path. Gigantic spiders hung about. I didn’t see any ants. (So if you have an ant problem at your house, try placing Pitcher Plants around the rooms.) Given all the Pitcher Plants, it seemed that there had to be ants somewhere. Was there a shortage? Maybe the competition for the ants was stiff. I did not hear the Pitcher Plants saying “Good Price” or “Come in just to look” or “The scent is free” or whatever works to bring in the local ants. But throughout the walk, you could always hear frogs. The frogs likely drowned out the Pitcher Plants. Long live the frogs.
For more information, see Pitcher Plants.
“Carnivorous plants seem exotic, but more grow in the U.S. than anywhere else.” —www.easyscienceforkids.com
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