Insectivorous Plant Collection

These plants grow in nutrient-poor habitats and supplement their nutrition by trapping and digesting insects.  Various forms of traps occur: sticky traps such as The Sundews (Drosera) and Butterworts (Pinguicula), and pitfall traps as in the Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) where the insects drown in liquid-filled pitchers.  A modification of the pitcher can be seen in the Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica) where the top of the pitcher is covered with a window-like structure; the insect flies into this window until it tires and falls into the pitcher below.  Perhaps most interesting are the Venus Fly Traps (Dionaea muscipula): their open trap-like leaves snap shut when three hairs on the leaf surface are touched, trapping the unsuspecting fly that happens to land on them!

Insectivorous Plant Gallery

Click on images to enlarge.

Trichomanes speciosum

The Long House also houses the rare native Killarney Fern, Trichomanes speciosum. This delicate fern is highly threatened and is listed as legally protected in the Ireland Red List No. 10: Vascular Plants.

Sparmannia africana

Sparmannia africana is a South African shrub from the Mallow family (Malvaceae).  The outermost stamens in the flower are yellow and sterile, the inner ones are red at the tips, and longer.  These stiff but flexible stamens dab pollen onto visiting insects as they push their way into the flowers – younger flowers are cup-shaped when pollen is first released from the anthers.

The bark of this species is a source of strong fibre, formerly used in bows, hence the common name ‘Bow-string Hemp’.  In recent times the plant has become popular as a fast-growing conservatory shrub.  The species is named after Anders Sparmann, who sailed on Captain Cook’s second expedition.

Dioscorea elephantipes

The Elephant’s Foot plant, Dioscorea elephantipes, is actually native to interior South Africa, and is thriving in the cool temperate environment of the Long House. It has a very unusual looking thickened, corky stem resembling an elephant’s foot.