Story at a glance

  • A new study found that a common flower is actually carnivorous.
  • The flower, the western false asphodel, is a white flower common in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Researchers found that tiny hairs along the flower’s stem produce a digestive enzyme other carnivorous plants use to trap and eat insects.

A new study has discovered that what was previously considered a common flower is carnivorous.

(Courtesy of UBC and Qianshi Lin)


“We had no idea it was carnivorous,” Sean Graham, a botanist with the University of British Columbia and one of the study’s authors, told NPR.

Published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers found that the western false asphodel, a white flower common in the Pacific Northwest and first discovered in 1879, has a genetic deletion, or loss of segment of DNA, as well as features other carnivorous plants have to trap food.

“They have these sticky stems,” Graham said. “So, you know, it was kind of like, hmm, I wonder if this could be a sign that this might be carnivorous.”

The researchers found that tiny hairs along the flower’s stem produce a digestive enzyme other carnivorous plants use to trap and eat insects.


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There are fewer than 1,000 carnivorous plant species, and the new classification is the first carnivorous plant to be discovered in 20 years.

However, given the latest discovery, Graham believes there may be more common plants out there that are actually carnivorous.

“I suspect,” Graham said, “that there might be more carnivorous plants out there than we think.”


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Published on Aug 11, 2021