Plant and Soil

, Volume 274, Issue 1–2, pp 127–140 | Cite as

The Roots of Carnivorous Plants

  • Wolfram Adlassnig
  • Marianne Peroutka
  • Hans Lambers
  • Irene K. Lichtscheidl


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 plants insectivorous plants morphology nutrition root 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfram Adlassnig
    • 1
  • Marianne Peroutka
    • 1
  • Hans Lambers
    • 2
  • Irene K. Lichtscheidl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Conservation BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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