Loading...
Stop printing EBT cards and illegal immigration ceases to exist. Global warming would take a hit too....

Mystery Plant

051218mysteryplant

This little plant produces a cluster of tiny spoon-shaped leaves, arranged in a low rosette.

Loading…

John Nelson

Saturday, May 12, 2018

But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,

Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1

Dew is something that has long captured the imagination of the poets: It is born from the air, appearing as magic pearls in the morning, often forming spectacular, shiny scenery when the sun hits it just right. Then it disappears.

The little plant pictured here offers its own kind of “dew,” which of course is not real dew at all, and is not dependent upon the atmosphere. The plants each produce a cluster of tiny spoon-shaped leaves, these arranged in a low rosette. The whole plant may have a “spread” of only a couple of inches. It produces several white or pink-petaled flowers, arranged on an upright, threadlike stalk, 6-8 inches or so tall, growing from the center of the rosette.

Special hairs covering the upper surface of the leaves secrete a droplet of sticky, clear mucilage. In full sun, the little plants can be spectacular, producing a shimmering vision of sparkling diamonds, and when present in enough numbers the plants may form a brilliantly glistening carpet, very attractive … even if you are not on your hands and knees. This species and its relatives belong to a genus whose name in Greek means “glistening” … as in the morning dew.

The beauty of such a scene belies the potential danger to small insects and tiny critters, often attracted to the galaxy of tiny droplets. Some evidence indicates that the droplets have a tempting, sweet taste, hence even more attractive. Thus, tiny critters may be showing up for dinner. Once contacting the drops, though, these insects are invariably glued to the leaf, as the collective effect of the secretions forms a natural kind of sticky fly-paper.

Struggling against the sticky dew is of little help, and generally further enmires the victim. After a little while, the tiny leaf blade rolls over the trapped bug, and death soon follows. Well, after all, this is an insectivorous plant, and it is actually feeding upon the valuable nutrients present in the insect’s body. So it turns out that the little dinner guests showing up are they themselves on the menu.

This little plant is one of about 30 different species of insectivorous (or “carnivorous”) plants that can be found in the southeastern USA. This particular species is reasonably common on the coastal plain from Virginia to Texas, and it likes to grow on damp peat or sand of bogs or pond margins.

All insectivorous plants are fully capable of producing their own carbohydrates as a source of energy, through the process of photosynthesis. Additionally, though, insectivorous plants have all evolved mechanisms enabling them to variously trap tiny animals. Nutrients in the bodies of the trapped critters is ultimately absorbed by the plant, which thus capitalizes from this curiously derived “fertilizer.”

Ecologically, most insectivorous plants tend to be found on soils that have low pH, or relatively acidic. Nutrients in such places are generally harder for plants to absorb, so carnivory comes in very handy.

[Answer: “Pink sun-dew,” Drosera capillaris]

John Nelson is the curator of the A.C. Moore Herbarium at the University of South Carolina’s Department of Biological Sciences in Columbia, S.C. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identifications. For more information, call 803-777-8196, visit www.herbarium.org or email nelson@sc.edu.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

October 21, 2018

BEAR GRASS — Earl Bailey has hung his printer’s apron up for the last time.

After almost 60 years of service with the Enterprise & Weekly Herald in Williamston, the 74-year-old former Linotype has retired.

Bailey has given almost three-quarters of his life to the art of…

1012-WE-FR-Earl3.jpg

October 21, 2018

I am looking for iconic North Carolina eateries for a new book.

The dictionary defines iconic as “widely recognized and well-established” or “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.”

The iconic restaurants should be (1) widely known in North…

DGMartin.jpg

October 20, 2018

What's the difference, botanically, between a "reed" and a "cane"? I'm not sure I know: both of these are very old words that tend to refer to hollow-stemmed, grass-like plants. Here is a plant that seems to fit, and is, as well, a true member of the grass family.

It is native to southern Europe,…

Arundo_donax6.jpg

October 19, 2018

Certified Angus beef, appetizers, and hand-crafted sandwiches and salads are just a few reasons why people love Angus Grill in Winterville. Now you can be even more excited because they have opened a new location in Greenville at 201 S. Jarvis St. Conveniently located within walking distance to the…

20181010_124801.jpg

October 19, 2018

Director David Gordon Green got his start with art-house dramas but is perhaps best known for the baked humor of "Pineapple Express." So it's apt that, despite plenty of gore, his version of "Halloween," the latest sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 slasher film, sometimes feels like a horror movie…

FILM-HALLOWEEN-REVIEW-ADV18

October 19, 2018

Dancer Rebecca Colenda has leaped and twirled on stages across the globe, but this weekend it is her turn to come back to where it all began.

The Pitt County native will dance a principal role in “The Scarlet Cord” on Sunday at Winterville's Reimage Church. Colenda, 25, who had her…

101918goballet-4.jpg

October 17, 2018

Certified Angus beef, appetizers, and hand-crafted sandwiches and salads are just a few reasons why people love Angus Grill in Winterville. Now you can be even more excited because they have opened a new location in Greenville at 201 S. Jarvis St. Conveniently located within walking distance to the…

20181010_125153.jpg

October 17, 2018

Q My doctors wants me to try the Mediterranean diet. He said I could have some red meat. How much is some? KP, Winterville.

A We recently visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s library and museum. I was intrigued by his physician’s diet prescription for the president in 1944. It…

KathyKolasa

October 17, 2018

Q My doctors wants me to try the Mediterranean diet. He said I could have some red meat. How much is some? KP, Winterville.

A We recently visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s library and museum. I was intrigued by his physician’s diet prescription for the president in 1944. It…

Kolasa, Kathy

October 14, 2018

I was a proud Boy Scout and Scout leader but had lost touch with the program.

However, my youngest grandson’s excitement over having just been signed up for Cub Scouts happened to open a window on some truly monumental changes in the Scouting world. Like me, you may have missed them.

The…

Bob Garner
240 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 24
        Next Page»   Last Page»