Monday, October 4, 2010

Week of the Triffids: Sundews.

Oh, wow. What is that? Vector art? An alien plant species? Whatever it is, it's pretty.

That creepy-yet-beautiful plant is a member of the genus Drosera, also known as sundews. Sundews can be found every continent except Antarctica. I know what you're thinking: That name sounds like it could belong to the bastard child of Sunkist and Mountain Dew.

To be fair, both use shiny liquids and bright colors to get one's attention.

Instead of being a soda pop, the sundew is a carnivorous plant with possibly the most beautiful weapon in the plant world: It uses sparkling drops of liquid to attract and trap its insect prey (just like soda companies). The species of sundew is usually named after how their gem-studded leaves are shaped; thus far we have looked at D. rotundifolia, D. spathulata and D. cuneifolia. Try and guess what their names mean!

Insects are apparently just as drawn shiny things as people and magpies. The drops on a sundew's tentacles are not very sweet, but insects still go "OMG SHINY!" and fly over. They are soon caught by the extremely sticky droplets on the sundew's leaves. Unable to escape, the leaf folds over them, slowly digesting the helpless bug. The rest is history.

Regardless of how gory their feeding habits are, one really cannot blame the insects for being interested. Just look at how much colorless, hardened carbon goes for...

Diamonds: They're carbon, just like you, me and pencil lead.

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