What Are Some Examples of Heterotrophic Plants?

Some examples of heterotrophic plants are Venus flytraps, sundews, pitcher plants and fungi. These plants are unusual in that they derive nutrition from living things instead of photosynthesis.

Fungi, such as mushrooms, absorb their nutrients from the medium they are growing on. This might be a rotting log, rotting fruit, cheese or flesh. Fungi produce enzymes to help break down this material to digest it. They also help the ecosystem by breaking down dead material.

The pitcher plant, sundew and Venus flytrap are carnivorous plants. The pitcher plant is shaped like an urn or a pitcher. Insects, such as flies, are attracted to it, enter the pitcher and then slip down into the liquid at the bottom. Once there, they are digested.

The Venus flytrap has leaves that have been modified into two hinged lobes. The edges bear bristles, and the insides have sensitive hairs. When an insect lands on one of the lobes and stimulates the hairs, the lobes snap shut and trap the insect. The insect is then digested.

The sundew has leaves that are filled with tiny tentacles that secrete a fluid that helps to trap the insect. Once the insect is enmeshed in the fluid, the leaf folds up around it.