Cranberry Lake Biological Station

Document Type


Publication Date



Roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and purple pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) are able to capture and digest prey to supplement nitrogen in nutrient-poor conditions. Sundews use scents to attract prey. Pitcher plants mimic bright flowers. We hypothesize that of the two carnivorous plants, sundew will have a greater number of visits by prey in a timed trial. Plants were observed for an hour each and the number of prey attractions was recorded. An attraction was considered to be physical contact. Additionally, surrounding vegetation, percent cover, and depth of surface water were surveyed to understand the preferred conditions of each species of plant. Student t-tests compared and determined that prey attraction of each species (p<0.001) were significantly different. Sundews had a greater percent cover, but less prey attraction than pitcher plants. Pitcher plants attract more prey, but are limited by water depths. There was no connection between the plants’ ability to capture prey and diversity of surrounding vegetation. Additional research could focus on solar preferences, root anchoring limitations, and ability to maximize the uptake of phosphorus, which may further explain the abundance of sundews contrary to the greater success of pitcher plants when attracting prey.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.