Are there any carnivorous plants that are harmful to humans?

No, because even the largest carnivorous plants are only big enough to digest something the size of a frog, and the digestive enzymes they secrete are comparatively weak.

Very rarely, a rat or bird has been found drowned in the liquid contained in the bottle-like appendages that hang from the vines of Nepenthes rajah, a pitcher plant from the tropical highlands of Borneo. The bottles can be up to 14 inches long, with mouths as big as 7 inches.

However, frogs are more typical Nepenthes prey, and birds or rodents that get caught are probably sick animals too weak to fight their way out of the trap. Most carnivorous plants are completely harmless to something larger than a small insect.

Botanists say that the many kinds of carnivorous plants evolved to get nutrients, especially nitrogen, that are lacking in the soil or water where they grow. Some live with their traps submerged in water, eating very small prey up to the size of mosquito larvae and fish fry.

Some land-dwelling carnivores consume gnats, flies, and moths; others eat ants and other crawling insects.

The most familiar carnivorous plants, Venus flytraps, will capture and digest any insect or spider that happens their way.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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