Plants that trap and eat animals: an amazing phenomenon that has inspired awe since before the days of Darwin. The victims may be flies and butterflies, small crustaceans, or even vertebrates the size of rats.
Lured into the danger zone by optical, tactile, and olfactory strategies, the prey succomb to ingenious traps and face their doom. But unlike plants that temporarily catch insects for pollination, the true carnivores go considerably further: they digest them for the nutrients they need to survive in extremely inhospitable sites on land and in water. "Drosophyllum lusitanicum" can digest a mosquito within 24 hours. The common butterwort, "Pinguicula vulgaris," digests small snimals within two days; a whole fly will disappear in "Drosera anglica" in four days.
This exquisite book, copiously illustrated with closeup photography, provides detailed descriptions--including trapping mechanisms, digestion, and prey--and cultivation information for key species in 17 genera and 10 families. Most notably, it includes the first comprehensive listing of some 630 known carnivorous plant species, described in fascinating detail, with identification history and geographic distribution species by species. Physiological and ecological wonders abound in clear and accessible explanations by four author-scientists who work at the leading edge of research.
Anyone captivated by the unearthly beauty of the "flowers of evil" will treasure this stunning, encyclopedic exploration, which also includes animal-trapping mosses and fungi, as well as advice for growing and buying carnivorous plants and an extensive international bibliography. It is an essential reference for hobbyist, naturalist, and collector alike.