Agasthya 6.3 Non-vegetarian plants of wetlands
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Mention wetlands and one starts fantasizing flocks of feathered friends thereby setting up an irrepressible urge to pick a bird guide and binoculars. But wetlands are also a repositories of very interesting plants, which can be viewed without binoculars. Here, in this note I particularly focus on the insectivorous plants that capture insects to draw nutrients from them for their healthy growth. These plants mainly obtain nitrogen compounds from the insects and their presence indicates low nitrogen levels in the environment and hence they can serve as indicator species. Usually they are seen in fresh water tanks, marshy-ponds and swamps and have a worldwide distribution. In the Agasthyamalai landscape most common insectivorous plants are sundew plants (Drosera) and bladderworts (Utricularia) each of which has more than six species occurring here. They use their modified leaves to capture insects with their glandular hairs or use bladder traps etc. These special structures help trap insects and secrete digestive enzyme and some organic acids that helps in the break down complex molecule of nitrogen to a simple form that can be easily absorbed by the plants. Sundew plants are represented by D. burmanni and D. indica which are very common in edges of wetlands or water logged areas. The bladderwort plant genus called Utricularia is a common genus comprising more than 200 species globally and is represented by atleast six species in the wetlands. Some of these species are submerged and free floating, while others are fixed by fine roots. In general, free floating Utricularia species have bladder like traps in the water. The whole plant has several traps, which are used for capturing insects in the water. Although plants are submerged their inflorescence are above the water with attractive yellow/blue/purple flowers which are short lived and last for a day . So the next time readers think of wetland, I hope that diversity of plant life also crosses their mind.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 3
      November 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Non-vegetarian plants of wetlands
- Saravanan
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