March 4, 2013

Glowing plants? It’s not uncommon for bioluminescence to appear in deep sea fish, some insects, and even fungus, but these pitcher plants are playing a whole different ballgame. Rather than producing light in the human-visible spectrum—often used in nature to ward off or attract other creatures—these pitcher plants (Nepenthes khasiana) produce ultraviolet rays tailored to luring insects home for dinner, so to speak.

As they often grow in nutrient-poor soil, carnivorous plants have evolved their peculiar (for a plant, anyway) appetites to supplement their diet—namely with bugs. And as this ultraviolet wavelength is visible to the prey the pitchers seek, it’s essentially an attractive neon sign for unwitting meals.

Of course, some scientists think this new discovery might be useful to humans, as well. Click through for more. —MN

(Image source: National Geographic)

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