plants have 'stomachs'!
Pitcher plants are plants
that have 'pitchers' that grow from the tips of their leaves. The species of
pitcher plant in the photo is called Nepenthes keithii, one of the few
that can be found in Mt. Kinabalu.
Pitcher plants are very interesting plants because their
pitchers, or cups, are like 'stomachs'. Their
pitchers contain liquid that attracts insects. Insects that fall into the
pitchers will get trapped in the sticky liquid and die. Enzymes
in the liquid can digest the dead insects so that the pitcher plants can get
nutrients from them.
Like other green plants, pitcher plants make their own food by a
process called photosynthesis. However, they live in places where the soil
does not have enough supply of minerals, especially compounds that contain nitrogen.
Therefore, the digested insects provide extra nitrogen for the plants. In this
way, pitcher plants can live very well in areas where the soil is not fertile,
like in montane and kerangas forests.