International Carnivorous Plant Society

Carnivorous Plant Newsletter Archive


Murderous plants

Brittnacher, John

Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 40(1):17-18
Published 1 March 2011

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The year 2009 was the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species (Darwin 1859). It was marked by many celebratory articles including a paper by Mark Chase, Maarten Christenhusz, Dawn Sanders, and Michael Fay published in Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society called 'Murderous plants: Victorian Gothic, Darwin and modern insights into vegetable carnivory' (Chase et al. 2009). In line with the catchy title, the article was a very broad review of carnivorous plants, real and imaginary, along with many plants that the authors considered incomplete carnivores. The article was not a proposal that we call all these plants murderous plants. What the article did though was argue that there is a clear continuum between carnivorous and non-carnivorous plants. That is, one can make up definitions of what is and what is not a carnivorous plant, but in the end any definition is totally arbitrary. I disagree. Carnivorous plants are unique. I think there is an obvious place to draw the line between carnivores and non-carnivores. Any waffling is due to our lack of understanding the plants. However, the Chase et al. (2009) article ends with 'We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think.' This is true; there are more murderous plants than we think.

Keywords: carnivory

Article Citation

Brittnacher, John. 2011. Murderous plants. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 40(1):17-18.

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