Siam Exotica Plants




 |     Attracting and capturing prey

|   Cultivation






Attracting and capturing prey


         Our main interest in this plant lies in its snapping leaves.

The trap portion of the leaf has two lobes attached  to a central midrib. The lobes are about 0.2 inch 0.15 inch wide (4-6 millimeters long, 3-5 millimeters wide). Each trap lobe consists of two more or less equal-sized concentric zones, demarcated by a sharp boundary (called the enclosure boundary).

The region closer to the midrib consists of slightly thicker tissJe, and bears 30 to 40 tiny trigger hairs 0.02-xml:namespace prefix = st1 />0.06 inch (0.5-1.5 millimeters) long. This is the digestion chamber. The outer region is more delicate and membranous; on the margin of the outer region are  60 to 80 tiny recurved teeth, so small they are difficult to see even in high-magnification images. Common prey, at least for plants in cultivation, includes a variety of microscopic zooplankton such as Daphnia, mosquito larvae, and so on.

Each trap is nestled in a spray of leaf bristles that could easily interfere with feeding, so each trap is oriented with a 90-degree twist, with its back pushed against them. This way the trap opening faces away from the bristles. The function of the bristles is not known. They might push against the water surface to keep the plant's traps submerged, or they might funnel prey toward the traps. Or they might provide shelter or places for algae to live, compelling organisms to feed in the area of the hungry traps; or they might serve to keep small particles of detritus out of the traps. You can see there is a great deal we do not know about this plant



Mechanics of the trap


When the trap is sprung, it snaps closed in only half to  a quarter of a second. Just after closure the trap's two lobes are in contact with each other along the outer margin; it looks like a closed clam with two convex surfaces. If a trap is sprung but no prey is captured,  it reopens in 10 to 20 hours. Aldrovanda trap closure  is not very predictable. One study has shown that some traps shut when a single trigger hair is touched just once, but that other traps respond only if a hair is touched several times. Lazy traps close only when all the trigger hairs are brushed!





















Digestion chamber


              If prey is captured. the traps begin the next phase of closure within 30 minutes. Exactly how they do it is not known. but somehow the traps expel water. The water might  be ejected out of the trap ends or be pumped out using the suspicious X-shaped glands (called quadrifids) in   the membranous outer zone of the trap. As the trap tightens. it changes shape. While one of the trap lobes stays the same shape. the other lobe changes. The outer membranous zone of this second lobe changes curvature. and becomes concave. When this happens. the two lobes fit t~ether like two nested dishes. The inner part of the trap retains its shape as two convex lobes. and becomes a tightly sealed digestion chamber.


Digesting prey


          As the two outer membranous lobes close. creatures are usually shepherded into the digestion chamber. Darwin thought it might be significant that tiny crustaceans  are sometimes squeezed between the two sealed lobes.

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Sessile glands in the digestion chamber release enzymes that dissolve the prey. The trap stays closed for as long as nutrients can be extracted from the captured prey. about three to seven days.



 |     Attracting and capturing prey

|   Cultivation


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