The glass-domed conservatory at Huntington Gardens is home to many exotic plants, but tucked away in one of the wings is a special boggy environment dedicated to the most delightful plants of them all: the meat eaters.
On display within the massive 16,000 square-foot Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory are numerous species of unusual carnivorous plants, including American pitcher plants, sundews, Venus flytraps, and butterworts.
One example is the Sarracenia trumpet pitcher, native to the eastern United States, it flowers in the spring with a pretty little blossom and a distinctive smell, not unlike cat urine.
The pitchers are actually the leaves of the plant, and form slippery funnels that attract and trap curious insects.
Larger pitcher plants can trap and digest a full grown rat.
In comparison, the Drosera, or sundew, relies on hundreds of tiny sticky drops along their leaves to trap and digest insects.
There are more than 194 known species of sundews, making it the largest genera of carnivorous plant.
The humble looking Pinguicula, or Butterwort, with its pretty and unassuming purple blooms, uses a similar technique, trapping small insects on its sticky leaves.
Runner up, Ecology and Environmental Science category
Invincible ants by Thomas Endlein.
Pitcher plants are carnivorous, drawing nutrients from trapped and digested insects.
The species shown here (Nepenthes bicalcarata) secretes sweet nectar on the rim and fang-like structures, which are very slippery for most insects except for one specialised ant (Camponotus schmitzii).
The ants live in the curled hollow tendrils of the plant and manage to climb in and out of the pitcher without any difficulties to steal a bit of nectar, as shown here
Selected illustrations from the stunning Hortus Malabaricus (Garden of Malabar), an epic treatise dealing with the medicinal properties of the flora in the Indian state of Kerala.
Originally written in Latin, it was compiled over a period of nearly 30 years and published in Amsterdam between 1678 and 1693 in 12 volumes of about 500 pages each, with a total of 794 copper plate engravings.
The book was conceived by Hendrik van Rheede, who was the Governor of Dutch Malabar at the time, and he is said to have taken a keen personal interest in the compilation.
The work was edited by a team of nearly a hundred including physicians (such as Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit, Appu Bhat and Itti Achuden) professors of medicine and botany, amateur botanists (such as Arnold Seyn, Theodore Jansson of Almeloveen, Paul Hermann, Johannes Munnicks, Joannes Commelinus, Abraham a Poot), and technicians, illustrators and engravers, together with the collaboration of company officials, clergymen (D. John Caesarius and the Discalced Carmelite Mathaeus of St. Joseph’s Monastery at Varapuzha).
Van Rheede was also assisted by the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut.
Prominent among the Indian contributors were three Gouda Saraswat Brahmins named Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit,Appu Bhat and Malayali physician, Itti Achuden, who was an Ezhava doctor of the Mouton Coast of Malabar.
The book has been translated into English and Malayalam by Dr. K. S. Manilal. (Wikipedia).
Perhaps the most widely imbibed conifer on the planet, this ancient plant dates to the Triassic period. Juniper berries are actually tiny cones with fleshy scales that take two to three years to ripen.
A single shrub can hold berries in all stages of ripeness, so they are harvested by spreading a tarp underneath and beating the plant with a stick to make the ripe cones fall off.
By law, a spirit must contain some juniper to be called gin.
Grains of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta)
A common gin ingredient, this West African ginger relative produces tiny, spicy seeds.
It has flavored spirits and beers for centuries, but it’s also a staple food of western lowland gorillas.
Zookeepers discovered that without this vital food source, captive gorillas developed heart disease.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
This silvery Mediterranean herb is best known as a flavoring in absinthe, but it is also used to add a note of bitterness to most vermouths.
In fact, the word “vermouth” is derived from early forms of “wormwood”—and that name came from the belief that the plant could kill intestinal worms.
Olive (Olea europaea)
A relative of jasmine, lilac, and garden sage, olives have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for seven thousand years, and individual trees live to be hundreds of years old.