Pitcher 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.Click on me to get a bigger picture! 

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.