Carnivorous plants in Wales
Cors Fochno, Near Aberystwyth is one of the is one of the largest and finest remaining examples of a raised peat bog in Britain.
Many rare and unusual species live here including the rosy marsh moth and small red damselfly. It is also home to carnivorous plants that get their nutrients from insects rather than soil.
Here’s Dyfi Ynyslas Reserve Manager, Justin Lyons, to tell us more…
Plants that grow on raised bogs must be able to survive on the very nutrient poor wet peaty soil.
To help overcome this, many of the have developed fascinating adaptations, therefore bogs are hot spots for carnivorous plants – plants that get some of the nutrients they need from catching and digesting insects rather than the soil.
Cors Fochno has 6 species of carnivorous plants – 3 types of sundews and 2 types of bladderwort and a butterwort.
Sundews are a bit like flypaper, they have long hair like red projections that produce a sweet sticky liquid that both attracts and traps insects.
Once a bug is caught the plants then release digestive enzymes and are then able to absorb essential nutrient. The nutrients that are most essential are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all essential for the plants growth.
What is the biggest size of bug that sundews can catch?
The rare Great Sundew is found on Cors Fochno on the healthiest area of the bog, it grows on large lawns of golden sphagnum bog moss can and catch prey up to the size of a dragonfly!
One of the most intriguing wildlife sittings I’ve seen on Cors Fochno was once when a local school was visiting, and we looked at a patch of Oblong-leaved sundew that sometimes form large patches on bare peat.
Amazingly on one small patch of Sundew were over 20 dead or dying brightly coloured blue damselflies. I concluded that a female had originally got caught but then attracted lots of male suitors who then also get stuck to the plant.
Bladderworts are found in open shallow pools of water on the bog. These very strange plants form little bladders under the water that are air filled. The bladder has a hinged trapped door. Any tiny bug in the water that springs the trap door will be sucked into the bladder and the door shuts. The bug is then digested, and the nutrients need by the plant absorbed.
All insectivorous plants will decline if there is pollution by ground water or air supplying nutrients as it gives often more common nutrient loving plants a competitive advantage.
Our Welsh Raised Bog LIFE Project
Healthy bogs bring great benefits to wildlife and people. They help tackle climate change by storing vast amounts of carbon, they provide a home to rare plants and animals, and they are great places for people to visit and enjoy the outdoors.
Cors Fochno is one of seven sites included in the project Welsh Raised Bog LIFE Project that will help improve the condition of some of the most important raised bogs sites in Wales.