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Mutualistic Relationships Between Frogs and Carnivorous Plants


Anyone that knows my designs or follows me on Instagram will have seen I have a fascination with carnivorous plants.
They are the most remarkable and animal like plant I can think of.
I have several species in my home including a beautiful Nepenthes and Cobra Lily.
pitcher plant
One of my wallpaper designs and the plant that inspired it. 
These plants inspired my designs greatly.
While I was researching, I discovered something even more amazing about them. They often have mutualistic relationships with animals, and some are even vegetarian! (What would you even call those, ‘Vegetarian Plants’ just sounds redundant)
Carnivorous plants are adapted to be insectivorous because they grow in nutrient poor soils. They need to replace those scant resources with some other food.
Most have ways of catching and digesting insects.
The most famous of these plants, venus fly traps, do this with their spiked jaws.
Pitcher plants do it by enticing insects into their open mouths with sweet smells.
The specially designed insides of the plant deposit the unfortunate insect into fluid filled pitchers, where they are dissolved, and the nutrients absorbed by the plants. How has this never been a horror film? Oh yeah, Little Shop Of Horrors. I’m waiting for someone to create a much darker and more beautiful film with a fanged Nepenthes Bicalcarata though…
I digress.
When I read this I assumed any animal that found itself in the belly of one of these monsters would be creature soup soon enough. And large animals like lizards have been known to meet a sticky end this way.
However, many animals have also adapted to work with the plants.
Some frogs such as Borneo’s tiny Microhyla nepenthicola actually use pitcher plants as nurseries for their tadpoles. In a water poor environment, this fluid is precious.
frog in carnivorous plant
Less cute are the mosquitos that have adapted to resist the digestive effects of these miraculous flora.
Some species of bat and shrew are drawn to the sweet taste on the lids of the pitcher plant. As they are licking off the nectar, they poo into the plant, which you might think is a bit of a one finger salute after stealing a delicious sugar rush, however this provides the plant with phosphorous and nitrogen. So it’s a fair deal.
This fascinating exchange of resources led me to design my pitcher frog illustration.
I could never run out of ideas as the natural world provides me with endless wonder and inspiration.
frog bag
Do you have any carnivorous plants?
They are so rewarding to own and study, let me know in the comments. 



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