Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Smell me, Touch me, Feed me

Fausto and I went on a shopping trip this morning to Booman Florals in Vista. We brought back some very cool plants. Plants that make you stop and take a second look, you will want to touch them, smell them and feed them.

Carniverous plants in 4" and 6" are the Feed Me plants.

Looking like a cluster of bear traps, the Venus Flytrap lies in wait for its victims. Insects are attracted by a sweet nectar inside the trap. There, on each side of the trap, are three dark trigger hairs, and they are extremely sensitive.

When an insect touches a trigger hair once, nothing apparently happens. The plant has been alerted, but the hair mechanism could have been activated by the wind, or a piece of dust. When the prey brushes a trigger hair again, that second signal causes a reaction; nerve-like electrical impulses pass through the plant, and the trap closes instantly. The 'teeth' called cilia, interlock and form a cage, enclosing the victim.

Small insects can easily crawl out between the cilia. This is the plant's method of throwing back the small fish, since it would take more energy to digest a tiny insect than could be gained from consuming it. But larger insects struggle to get out, repeatedly touching the trigger hairs. These signals cause the trap to close completely, totally sealing in the prey. The traps fills with liquid and the victim drowns.

The liquid, a digestive enzyme, breaks down the soft parts of the insect so the plant can absorb it. This process takes several days. When the plant has digested all of the insect it can use, the trap reopens, exposing the insect's skeletal shell, which is soon swept away by wind or rain. If the trap was mechanically triggered and captured no prey, it reopens within a day or so.

Pitcher Plants are standing tall ready to eat whatever flies or crawls their way

For the Touch Me plant we brought in Mimosa 'sensitive plant', if you show this plant to your child believe me they will try to close every similar plant on their walks.Our kids first experienced this plant in Hawaii and for the rest of the trip they would touch every plant to see if it was also magical.

Last but not least we brought in one of my favorite orchids, Coconut Cream Pie, yes it smells like Coconut. This variety is just beginning to bloom you will want to hang it in a protected area outside your front door or a window so the fragrance drifts in. Another very fragrant plant in stock is a Brazilian Orchid with purple blooms. The truck smelled heavenly on the trip home.