Day of the Triffids: Just a matter of time

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam was one of the first books I ever borrowed from a library, and it probably had a lot to do with my following science as a career. The story describes a world where humankind, blinded after watching a spectacular meteorite shower, is at the mercy of carnivorous plants (called Triffids) which roam the country-side killing all and sundry. Even to this day, whenever I observe a shooting star I do it with one eye closed … just in case.

Scented Sundews

Scented Sundews

A previous blog (click HERE to view) described the appearance of the carnivorous plant Scented Sundew (Drosera whittakeri), pictured above. This sundew is now in showy bloom. Recently I have noticed another carnivorous plant, the more triffid-looking Tall Sundew (Drosera peltata) starting to appear.

Tall Sundew

Tall Sundew

The method by which it captures its prey is the same as for the Scented Sundew. Insects are attracted to the leaves by sticky tentacles, which entrap the prey. The tentacles then move the insect to the leaf surface where enzymes are released and the insect is dissolved. In Scented Sundews the leaves lie along the ground. In Tall Sundews these leaves are on stems, making them look much more sinister. It has pale pink flowers in early summer.

Watch out in 500 million years time!

Watch out in 500 million years time!

Standing only 50 cm high, the Tall Sundew is not triffid-sized yet. But knowing evolution, it’s just a matter of time.


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