But can they catapult their prey to their doom? I think not.
The sundew has long been a very unassuming carnivorous plant. Species that live in the United States are actually quite beautiful, resembling burrs with tiny drops of sparkling dew on each barb. Insects that buzz by are unaware that those drew drops are actually a potent mixture of alluring smell source, powerful adhesive, and protein-dismantling enzymes that eventually liquefy the bug.
But Drosera glanduligera, an Australian sundew, has them all beat for misleading appearances. Rather than a burr atop a slender stem, glanduligera spreads out like a sea anemone, its top leaves sporting the sticky dew drops. But until now, scientists haven’t been able to figure out the function of the plant’s lower, longer ring of leaves.
New research shows those are just one more trap for an unwitting bug to set off. When touched, the thin tentacle-like leaves “catapult” the prey onto glanduligera’s sticky center. If it sounds stranger than fiction, have a look for yourself.