Saturday, August 13, 2011

Man-Eating Plants and an Announcement

Hi Readers!
Do you know how I told you that this blog is about science in Austin, TX?  Well... not today! Cuz I visited Maryland over the summer, so you get Maryland science today.  Yay! Here is something I saw in Maryland:

Man-Eating Plants:
I was with la familia at the Deep Creek Lake, and in an effort to  wear out and produce a nap educate our son, we went hiking at Cranesville Swamp*.  Here is the back of his head at the swamp...

And upon looking at that picture, here is the drama I imagine would enfold if we were face-to-face:
You: Amanda, I love you and all, but that is not a swamp.  That soil looks really dry.  Swamps aren't dry, they are forested wetlands.
Me: You!  I sooo love you too! You are right.  The swamp didn't fit into this picture; it is up ahead, on the right.  

So anyway, the super-cool reason we went to the swamp is because... there are man-eating plants!!! For reals (and when I say "man, " I mean "insect") !!

Ahem, so why are there man-eating plants (and when I say "man, " I mean "insect")?  Cuz there ain't no other way to get the nutrition, folks.  Ain't no way.  That soil has very. little. nutrition. Sigh.  Here is a carnivorous sundew plant with what looks like insect leftovers.
Sundew you.
And here is the general ecosystem area, preserved courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.

In fact, carnivorous plants thrive best in oligotrophic* soil.  In more fertile soil, other plants would outcompete sundews for resources, forcing sundews out.  Here are some great links to more info:

So if you ever see a man-eating plant in your neighborhood (Run!), it would be rational to infer that you have low nutrient soils! Whoo-hooh!

Why does this area have low-nutrient soil?  Maybe another day, because...

An Announcement:

I have a new job!!! And even better, it is at Eastside Memorial High School teaching Math.  I'm excited because I might have a chance to provide context to the math through environmental science and engineering (and other more boring equally important academic disciplines)!

It is going to be a busy year, so I will probably only post here to check-in with y'all or post quick links.  I'll still be on twitter for bits and pieces and I assume you know how to e-mail me.  Of course, I might just be calling some of you and nagging for advice (Jude) in the near future.  Until then, hugs you!


Oligotrophic: low nutrient conditions
Swamp: Forested wetland


  1. Congrats on the new job! Those are some cool carnivorous plants.

  2. Thanks! They are very pretty in person.

  3. I have a lack of knowledge on this and was good to know how and where these carnivorous plants really survive.

    1. Absolutely Roma, this article is quite useful to know about these insect eating plants.