Tomatoes as Carnivorous Plants

Have you ever wondered why tomatoes, potatoes, and some other plants have hairy stems?  Of course not.  Neither have I, until I encountered an explanation in the Telegraph yesterday.

Botanists have discovered for the first time that the plants are carnivorous predators who kill insects in order to "self-fertilise" themselves.  New research shows that they capture and kill small insects with sticky hairs on their stems and then absorb nutrients through their roots when the animals decay and fall to the ground.  It is thought that the technique was developed in the wild in order to supplement the nutrients in poor quality soil – but even domestic varieties grown in your vegetable patch retain the ability.

The fact that they are capable feeding on small insects has been overlooked because domesticated varities are typically grown in rich soils where such dietary supplementation is unnecessary.  They of course also lack the dramatic apparatus shown below in the outstanding video of the Venus flytrap, or the adaptations shown by the sundew and pitcher plant.

Link.  Photo credit Tom Bullock.

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

pardon the deconstructionism, but from a purely botanical perspective tomato berries/fruits are nothing more than ripe ovaries. think about that next time you slice into one.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Tomatoes as Carnivorous Plants"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More