How a plant eats its prey

In a letter to his close friend geol­o­gist Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin once wrote, “I care more about the Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world.”

He had become obsessed with the car­niverous plant, which wraps when it receives signal from its ten­ta­cles that nitrogen is nearby. A fly or a piece of meat would induce this mech­a­nism, but a droplet of water would not. Darwin was fas­ci­nated and fond that it was more respon­sive to touch than any nerve in the human body.

Mechan­ical engi­neering pro­fessor Mon­eesh Upmanyu is also fas­ci­nated by this curious crea­ture. He has taken on an entirely new research tra­jec­tory to study the mechanics of this curling behavior and will be sharing his results in a few months.

In the mean time, check out this video of a Drosera (aka Sundew) chowing on a fruit fly.