Plant and Soil

, Volume 274, Issue 1, pp 127–140

The Roots of Carnivorous Plants


  • Wolfram Adlassnig
    • Institute of Ecology and Conservation BiologyUniversity of Vienna
  • Marianne Peroutka
    • Institute of Ecology and Conservation BiologyUniversity of Vienna
  • Hans Lambers
    • School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western Australia
    • Institute of Ecology and Conservation BiologyUniversity of Vienna

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-004-2754-2

Cite this article as:
Adlassnig, W., Peroutka, M., Lambers, H. et al. Plant Soil (2005) 274: 127. doi:10.1007/s11104-004-2754-2


Carnivorous plants may benefit from animal-derived nutrients to supplement minerals from the soil. Therefore, the role and importance of their roots is a matter of debate. Aquatic carnivorous species lack roots completely, and many hygrophytic and epiphytic carnivorous species only have a weakly devel-oped root system. In xerophytes, however, large, extended and/or deep-reaching roots and sub-soil shoots develop. Roots develop also in carnivorous plants in other habitats that are hostile, due to flood-ing, salinity or heavy metal occurance. Information about the structure and functioning of roots of car- nivorous plants is limited, but this knowledge is essential for a sound understanding of the plants’ physiology and ecology. Here we compile and summarise available information on: (1) The morphology of the roots. (2) The root functions that are taken over by stems and leaves in species without roots or with poorly developed root systems; anchoring and storage occur by specialized chlorophyll-less stems; water and nutrients are taken up by the trap leaves. (3) The contribution of the roots to the nutrient supply of the plants; this varies considerably amongst the few investigated species. We compare nutrient uptake by the roots with the acquisition of nutri-ents via the traps. (4) The ability of the roots of some carnivorous species to tolerate stressful conditions in their habitats; e.g., lack of oxygen, saline conditions, heavy metals in the soil, heat during bushfires, drought, and flooding

Key words

carnivorous plantsinsectivorous plantsmorphologynutritionroot

Copyright information

© Springer 2005