The leaf of Drosera capensis shown here is green and oblong, covered in scattered long red hairs, tipped with tiny, globular glands. If you're an insect, these leaves hold danger.
This predatory plant feeds by trapping and digesting various invertebrates that land upon it, often insects. Not only does the sticky secretion from the gland at the hair tip detain the unhappy visitor, the hairy tentacle bends towards the leaf centre, bringing more glands into contact with the struggling food item, compounding the effect until the victim is overpowered or managed to escape.
D. capensis performs this capturing trick particularly fast and spectacularly, compared to other Drosera plants. The leaf is capable of curling around its hapless victim within thirty minutes, covering it completely. Not quite what young people expect from an action movie, but for the plant world a dramatic effect.
This information was obtained from the October 2010 edition of the KZN Wildlife Rhino Club Newsletter.
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