Questions for ‘Well-known wildflower turns out to be a secret meat-eater’

a yellow and white Triantha occidentalis flower

This innocent-looking flower has sticky hairs on its stem that trap and digest small insects. Scientists found this flower growing in Cypress Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.

Danilo Lima

To accompany “Well-known wildflower turns out to be a secret meat-eater


Before Reading:

1.  Several plants are known to get their nutrition from dining on animals. Name as many of these as you can.

2.  Most green plants get their energy from the sun and soil. With that in mind, why might some plants choose to eat meat instead?

During Reading:

1.  What’s the well-known wildflower with a meaty appetite that Sean Graham’s team is studying? Where is it found?

2.  What traits does this plant share with other carnivorous plants?

3.  Why did the researchers “tag” some fruit flies with nitrogen-15? What did they learn about the T. occidentalis plant from this?

4.  What does this carnivorous plant do to trap and eat insects? 

5.  What is phosphatase and how does T. occidentalis use it?

6.  How do most carnivorous plants avoid eating their pollinators? How does T. occidentalis do that?

After Reading:

1.  Engineers often look at how Mother Nature works, then design new products or systems based on what they learn. How might engineers use the meal-trapping traits of T. occidentalis for a new product or process?