NEWS of The Controversy is slow, so we visited the website PhysOrg, “a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics.” There we found Scientists think ‘killer petunias’ should join the ranks of carnivorous plants. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Natural History Museum believe that carnivorous behaviour in plants is far more widespread than previously thought, with many commonly grown plants – such as petunias – at least part way to being “meat eaters”.
They’re serious. Here’s a link to the abstract of Murderous plants: Victorian Gothic, Darwin and modern insights into vegetable carnivory, published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.
Let’s read on:
Carnivorous plants fascinated Charles Darwin, and he and his friend Sir Joseph Hooker (Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at that time) had an extensive correspondence concerning them. Darwin’s book Insectivorous Plants played a critical role in the idea that plants could eat animals being generally accepted. Before this, many botanists (including Linnaeus) had refused to accept that this could be the case.
Darwin strikes again! He not only took the mystery out of creation, but now we have to keep a watchful eye on the stylish carnation in our Curmudgeonly lapel — it may be out to get us.
Plants like petunias and potatoes have sticky hairs that trap insects, and some species of campion have the common name catchfly for the same reason. However, some of the commonly accepted carnivores have not been demonstrated to have the ability to digest the insects they trap or to absorb the breakdown products. In their paper, Chase et al. review each of the groups of potential carnivores.
If you can’t even trust a potato, then what can you trust? Here’s one more excerpt:
Professor Mark Chase, Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says, “Although a man-eating tree is fictional, many commonly grown plants may turn out to be cryptic carnivores, at least by absorbing through their roots the breakdown products of the animals that they ensnare. We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think.“
There you are, dear reader. Now you know that the world is far more dangerous than you ever imagined. Even the divinely-shaped banana that fits so cozily in Ray Comfort’s hand may turn out to be an assassin.
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