This post is part of an April Fools joke. There is no new carnivorous plant. Don't laugh too hard, you would have fell for it too if it wasn't for this disclaimer.
Well I've got some extremely interesting news. Now, before I spill the beans on this I want to emphasize that nothing has been proven (or disproved!) yet, but I have to say that so far this is very interesting.
Several weeks ago I was contacted by the project leader for botanical assessments from the team of scientists that were exploring the "Lost World" area of New Guinea. She wanted to know about carnivory in the Pedaliaceae. I told her that the only plant in this family even remotely considered being carnivorous is Ibicella lutea, which until relatively recently was considered to be in the family Martyniaceae. We discussed the matter in several emails (and one rather expensive phonecall!) until she finally came clean with me that they have discovered what appears to be a remarkable and novel form of carnivory, apparently in an as-yet-undescribed genus.
What makes this so interesting (for me, at least) is that while the plants (apparently) use mucilage to digest the prey, the mucus on the leaves is not used to retain prey. Instead, the plant is covered with many short silicaceous hairs that are extremely minutely barbed. This is not a flypaper plant so much as a pincushion plant! It's not clear if this plant preferentially preys upon soft-bodied organisms or what.
ALSO, remember that until radio-isotope studies are carried out on this plant, it will not be known if nutrients are actually translocated into the plant. However, in terms of the carnivorous syndrome, this plant demonstrates aspects of "Attracting", "Retaining", "Killing", and almost certainly "Digesting". Absorption? Well, the leaf surface looks like it may be glossy (suggesting a thick waxy cuticle), but the leaf is supposedly more permeable near the leaf mid-rib on the upper surface. Maybe fluids are absorbed there?
Dr. Sanchez also told me that this plant is commonly associated with disturbed habitats (animal trails, etc.). It produces many burr-like seeds so probably uses animals as a dispersal mechanism. All this suggests that, like many trailside plants, it would probably be very easy to grow. Unfortunately, because of the possible pending status of the site (I think it might be designated a globally-important bioreserve) seeds are not likely to be available anytime soon.
A couple of other quick notes from my conversations.
1)No news of leaf motion.
2)No observations of flowers, just fruit.
3)Expect to see publication of the new name in a journal like TAXON. Dr. Sanchez doesn't mind the photos being released because her team is the only group of people with specimens for herbarium specimens! So she can't get "scooped" so doesn't mind the news going around.
I'll keep everyone posted as much as I can. Unfortunately, I'm travelling right now, and will be spending 2-9 April in Texas (I'll be hooking up with Mike Howlett for some field trips!).
Talk to you later!
P.S. I will attempt to add a photo to this post, but I haven't done this before so I don't know if I'll do it correctly.