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article imageCarnivorous plant kills, eats a blue tit in UK garden

By Kev Hedges     Aug 6, 2011 in Environment
A killer plant growing in a garden nursery in Somerset, England has trapped a blue tit bird and devoured it. It is believed to be only the second time such an event has been documented anywhere in the world.
The pitcher plant, part of the Nepenthaceae family belongs to tropical nursery gardener Nigel Hewitt-Cooper, from West Pennard. He was inspecting his flora when he spotted the small bird wedged in the plants honey-glazed pitfall trap. The plant often eats flying or crawling insects such as flies and occasionally the odd moth. However, the arrival on its rolled leaves of the tit would have provided a feast-of-plenty for the genus of Nepenthes plant which originates from southeast Asia.
Mr Hewitt-Cooper said he believed the bird had been attracted to the plant by the many insects that had earlier been trapped on the leaf. In a report in the BBC he said, "I think it must have leant in to pluck out an insect that was floating on the fluid inside, tipped in too far and become wedged and unable to get out."
Mr Hewitt-Cooper is prize-winning grower of tropical plants such as the sundew, Venus fly-traps and pitcher plants. He said some of the larger species have been known to trap small frogs, lizards and field mice but hardly ever a bird. In the Sun UK newspaper, it reports the plant may have bitten off more than it could chew as when Mr Hewitt-Cooper discovered the trapped bird it had started to rot as the plant would have had trouble digesting its super-sized avian meal.
The official name for the pitcher plant is Nepenthes x mixta and is native to the wild jungles of Borneo and Sumatra as well as Nigel's garden.
More about pitcher plant, great tit, carnivorous plant, Garden, Plants
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