Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not So Carnivorous After All

            I was making a quinoa salad in my kitchen when I noticed an enormous black ant skittering across the floor tiles. I considered taking it outside where it could start a nice little homestead in the hostas, but then it occurred to me: I have a carnivorous plant. Instead of releasing the ant into its natural habitat, I moved it into hostile, flesh-eating territory.

I dropped its wriggling body from a mason jar into the open terrarium in the bay window. After I closed the lid, the ant crawled up and down the dewy walls of the terrarium and danced spastic circles around the red lips of the pitcher plant’s largest mouth. I watched in horror, waiting for the moment where he slipped down the waterslide into the digestive acids of doom. But no, he moved from the plant’s mouth to the wall of the terrarium once more and slipped into the peat moss.

The ant waved his fragile legs in the air so pitifully that I promptly opened the terrarium and rescued him from its swampy depths. I transferred him to the porch, where he will probably take advantage of the next opportunity to reenter my house.

I considered the pitcher plant, which has sprouted another luscious, red mouth since my last portrait session. Everything I’ve read on the subject of pitcher plants indicates that they aren't amazing photosynthesizers and require meaty meals, but my recent experiences have planted a seed of doubt in the peat moss of my mind. She is now bonding with my cat, Holly, a creature far too large for her to comfortably digest.

I suspect that my pitcher plant, Angelina, may be a vegetarian. It is not my place to criticize; I also dislike eating things with wild, wiggly legs. Perhaps it would be more amenable to my quinoa salad, served on the tip of a pair of pincers. Keep an eye out for my new food blog, Vegetarian Recipes for Your Carnivorous Plant.


  1. Hello! That pitcher plant is beautiful! I'm thinking about purchasing a pitcher plant myself, and I'm looking for a terrarium like the one you have to keep a moist environment. Can you point me in the right direction?

    Do you also water the plant regularly? I've read that keeping the bottom of the pot partially submerged in a dish will help the plant thrive, but a closed terrarium seems like a better idea.


  2. Hi Laura! I got my terrarium from Home Depot, I believe a lot of gardening shops have something similar. My plant recently succumbed to a fuzzy rot, so I have my doubts about keeping pitcher plants in a terrarium.

    If you decide to submerge it in water, let me know how it goes. Your plant might live a bit longer. My plant did not do well when I watered it regularly, but once I left it alone for four months thinking it dead and it finally sprouted. I think the terrariums hold in the water and make a moldy little ecosystem of its own.

    I met someone recently who planted an entire fish tank full of carnivorous plants with an open lid. They keep it in a sunny window and their plants seem to be doing pretty well.