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Thread: Carnivorous Figs?

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    jlechtm's Avatar
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    Carnivorous Figs?

    I read this today with great interest:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoo.../fig-wasp2.htm

    Anybody have any more scientific data on this? This seems pretty fantastic to me, in that it would be the first (to my knowledge) carnivorous "flower" identified, yes?

    Would be a very happy coincidence, anyway, that I do happen to have a fig tree wintering in my CP greenhouse at this moment, with its early spring crop of wasp killing figs growing nicely.

    Maybe if we can confirm this, we can move Figs to the Forum on other carnivorous/protocarnivorous plants :-).
    Growing CP since 1975. Succeeding (more or less) since 1990.

    Sarracenia & Heliamphora Growlist

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    Hello, I must be going... Not a Number's Avatar
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    It all depends on how you define carnivory. You could include tomato and potato plants too.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...ects-food.html
    Grand Hotel... always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    it says in that article that the figs actually release an enzyme to digest the wasps. tomatoes, and potatoes lack this, and they arent very well adapted to absorb the nutrients, which just wash over their roots from the occasional rotting bug falling into the soil after being killed by the plant. in the case of figs, the captured insect is completeley surrounded by the fig, which is releasing enzymes to digest it, like say, a little aquatic worm of some sort being caught in a bladderworts trap. im no experrt, but based on this, id say that figs are apparently much more adapted for carnivory than members of the nightshade family. if the definition of a fully carnivorous plant is that it lures, kills, digests, and benifits from insects/ other animals (which is the definition that i have most often seen used to describe a plant which has fully evolved carnivory) then i guess figs are indeed true carnivores, not even just semi/proto-carnivores! everyone is entitled to their own opinion about figs, but based on this, i will, from now on regard figs as true carnivores!(unless of course, someone proves otherwise!)

    this is really fascinating, thanks for posting!!

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    Millipede's Avatar
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    i think it more like "incidental" carnivory. The plant doesnt really mean to consume it, it just does

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    sarracenia_X's Avatar
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    i guess it could have evolved because of something like that, where it didnt mean to catch it, but ends up taking in nutrients from the bug as it rots. i mean couldnt it be that all CPs were incedental carnivores at some point, say, a plant that has curled leaves catching incedentally flies in them, eventually evolves into sa pitcher plant that does it on purpose for the nutrients that they gain from what was once "incedental carnivory". but i think that if the plant is actively producing enzymes to digest and absorb the wasps (it mentioned something about that in the article), then it has sort of gone from incedentally benifiting from the insects it catches, to actively digesting them for their nutrients.

    and also, does anyone here know weather it is all ficus (fig) trees that do this, or is it just the type/species that are usually eaten by humans, what most people would know as a fig? arent there a lot of diferent types of ficus?

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