Carnivorous plants, what?

Many plants get their food from the soil where they grow. Carnivorous plants, however, have figured out how to survive on moss and other surfaces that would leave other plants hungry. Instead of reaching down into the ground for food, carnivorous plants turn insects into fertilizer.

Think the spikes and colors of carnivorous plants look cool? So do bugs. When an insect flies up for a closer look, it gets drawn in even more by tasty nectar on the leaves. When it touches down to get this sugary liquid treat, the insect becomes the plant's next meal.

Some plants, like the Staghorn Sundew and the Venus flytrap, close in on their prey with tentacles that function like a sticky trap to catch passing bugs. Others, like the pitcher plant, stay still and trap insects in a long, deep well formed by their leaves.

In this video, take a virtual visit to Amazon's greenhouse in Woodinville, Washington, where horticulturist Jeff explains more about how carnivorous plants capture their prey. You’ll even get to see a Venus flytrap in action, clapping its leaves shut.

Words and plants to know

As you watch along, listen out for the following terms; they're referenced chronologically throughout the video.

Horticulturist: Horticulturist learn about plants and use that knowledge to grow plants healthy and strong.

Carnivorous: Carnivorous means meat-eating; the "meat" for carnivorous plants is bugs.

Staghorn Sundew: Native to parts of New Zealand and Australia, this plant catches bugs with a sticky liquid on its spiky leaves.

Enzymes: Enzymes are proteins, or tiny parts of the plant that help it digest food.

Venus flytrap: Grown mainly in North America, this plant has leaves like a mouth, with teeth that snap closed on insects.

Cultivar: A cultivar is a type of plant that people have bred to give it certain traits, such as a specific color or shape.

Lamina: The lamina is the surface of a leaf.

Petiole: The petiole is the thin base of a leaf where it attaches to the plant's stem.

Pitcher plant: This plant has leaves shaped like long tubes. Insects attracted to nectar at the top of the tube fall inside.

Virtual Kids Week activities are intended for children with involvement from a parent or guardian.