"Moss-covered canopy, Big Thicket National Preserve, 2015." by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Big Thicket

Carnivorous Plants

brochure Big Thicket - Carnivorous Plants
x Big Thicket National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Thicket National Preserve Kountze, Texas Plants that Eat Insects! Carnivorous Plants: Four of the five types of insect-eating plants in the US are found in the Big Thicket. Two short nature trails highlight the locations of sundews and pitcher plants in the the preserve. Butterworts and bladderworts have more specialized habitat needs and are much harder to find. Sundew Trail This 1-mile loop trail is a great place to see birds, wildflowers, and the bright red sundew plant. The fully accessible 0.3 mile inner loop winds past a small pitcher plant bog and through a wooded savannah that has abundant summer wildflowers. The outer loop of this trail passes through a longleaf pine savannah. Look for the dime-sized red rosettes of the sundew plant along boardwalks and in other disturbed areas along the trail. This area is closely managed by the preserve’s fire management team. Prescribed burns every 2 to 3 years play an important role in maintaining a healthy longleaf pine ecosystem. A detailed interpretive trail guide is available for purchase at the preserve visitor center. Pitcher Plant Trail This 1-mile loop trail leads visitors through a longleaf pine forest into the largest pitcher plant bog in the preserve. Follow the paved trail and elevated boardwalk into the wetland savannah to see hundreds of these funnel-shaped plants. Lured by the plant’s nector glands, insects fall into the pitcher, where digestive fluids and bacteria break down their bodies for absorption. The first quarter mile of this trail, from the parking lot to the pitcher plant bog, is fully accessble. The trail continues past the bog into a mixed hardwood/pine forest. It intersects with the Turkey Creek Trail at two different locations, so be sure to follow the signs carefully. Fun Facts about Carnivorous Plants • While the soil here supports lush plant growth, it is actually very poor in nutrients, particularly nitrogen. Insects provide the missing nutrients these plants need. • Carnivorous plants are capable of photosynthesis but obtain most of their nutrients from insects. • Some species of spiders, praying mantis, and frogs hunt insects at pitcher plants and eat them before they fall in. • You might think that these plants would help to control mosquito populations, but just the opposite is sometimes true. The larvae of some species of mosquitoes are impervious to the plants’ digestive juices. The adult mosquito lays her eggs in the fluid inside the pitcher plant, where the larvae develop and feed on trapped insects. • The most well-known carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap, does not grow in the Big Thicket. It is native only to North and South Carolina. * Not all roads are shown on this map. July, 2017

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