Could a Plant Ever Eat a Person?
By: Bowen Wang
RAWR! Many people falsely believe that plants can eat humans after watching classical movies like the “Little Shop of Horrors”, where a giant, man-eating plant relies on human blood to live, and the video game “Mario Bros”, where the Piranha Plants try to eat Mario. There are many other movies that feature plants eating humans like The Addams Family and the Angry Red Planet, just to name a few.
Many plants that are nicknamed man-eating plants are just carnivorous plants, meaning that they can eat other organisms like insects and other arthropods, and occasionally small mammals and birds. Carnivorous plants include pitcher plants, sundews and Venus flytraps.
Pitcher plants hang from trees and look like pitchers. They are round and usually have a lid that stands up. Inside, there is a very irresistible smell that draws organisms in. When the organisms go inside, they will fall into the acid below them that slowly dissolves them. It is nearly impossible for these organisms to escape because the walls are so slippery.
Venus flytraps are another type of carnivorous plant. They blend in well with the environment and will snap shut if an organism touches one of the hairs inside of its mouth. Once trapped, the insides slowly cave in, allowing the plant to digest it using its mouth.
Another carnivorous plant, the sundew, can devour other organisms. It looks like a long string with many other strings sticking out. Bugs are attracted to it. The insects approach the plant, but as soon as they touch it, the plant’s sticky pads slowly wrap around the inside, eventually killing it.
Although these three plants can eat small insects, they cannot eat humans or any other large organisms. Maybe one day they will evolve to digesting large organisms, but that won’t happen anytime soon. Sundews, Venus flytraps, and pitcher plants are just a few types of unique plants that have the power to eat other organisms.
“To think that plants ate insects would go against the order of nature as willed by god.”
-Carl Linnaeus (Swedish Naturalist)