A carnivorous plant that eats rats

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A new species of carnivorous plant has been discovered in Australia, at the end of Cape York, Queensland. She feeds, among other things, on rats …

Carnivorous plants grow almost everywhere in Cape York, which has long attracted many botanists who come to study them in their habitat. And yet, one of the most interesting species has been ignored so far.

The merit of this discovery goes to ecologist Charles Clarke, of James Cook University (Townsville), precisely in search of new species in the vicinity of  Jardine River National Park . The exact location has not been revealed because the scarcity of the plant makes it vulnerable and the amateurs are very numerous, including for commercial purposes …

It is a new species of  Nepenthes , named  tenax (from the Latin  tenax , tenace), the third of this family recorded on the continent, and the second which is endemic to it . N. tenax reaches a height of about one meter, and its animal traps rarely exceed 15 centimeters. Remains of small rats discovered inside show that this plant is not always satisfied with its ordinary insect …

In its habitat,  N. tenax coexists with the other two species,  N. mirabilis and  N. rowanae . Two hybrid varieties were also found.

Finally, and for the record, it should be noted that  N. tenax seems to have already been described very precisely since 1890 by the famous botanist Frank Jardine, who had then collected a specimen … Unfortunately, this one was lost, probably fell from his pocket when he rode back to the camp, and no other was discovered afterwards.

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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