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    Leaf modification among insectivorous plants-Nepenthes

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    Angiosperms (flowering plants) are the largest Phylum in the Plant Kingdom (Angiospermophyta is also called Anthophyta or Magnoliophyta). These plants have true roots, stems, leaves and flowers. The roots grow into the soil to anchor the plant in place and take up water and nutrients. The leaves are above ground and act as the main organs for photosynthesis. Stems provide above ground support for the plant and operate as conduits to move nutrients and water throughout the plant. Flowers contain the male and female reproductive organs of the plant.

    With these anatomical features in mind, do some research to find an angiosperm that has modified leaves, stems, roots or flowers that do not function in the normal manner, or that function in an unusual manner. Example: A California Barrel Cactus has spines in place of leaves to reduce water loss.

    Explain how this structural modification helped the plant adapt to its environment. Make sure the plant you choose is an Angiosperm. For example, pine trees and mushrooms are not Angiosperms.

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    Solution Preview

    We come across a special group of plants among angiosperms, which are known as hunter plants. They are specialized in trapping insects, and are well known as insectivorous plants. They usually grow in rain-washed, nutrient-poor soils, or wet and acidic soils. Such lands are acidic due to anaerobic conditions, resulting in partial decomposition of organic matter, thus release acidic compounds into the surroundings. As a result, the microorganisms necessary for complete decomposition of organic matter cannot survive in such poorly oxygenated conditions. Normal plants cannot survive in such nutrient poor habitats. But, the insectivorous plants successfully flourish in such places due to the fact that they supplement their photosynthetic food production by trapping insects and digest their bodies, which are rich in nitrogen.

    Insectivorous plants are categorized into active and passive types on the basis of their mode of trapping the prey. The
    active ones are able to close their leaf traps the very moment ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution deals in-depth regarding the modification of leaf blades observed among insectivorous plants, which are grouped under angiosperms. For instance, Nepenthes (Pitcher plant) exhibits leaf modification where in the leaf blades are modified into pitchers to trap insects in order to meet the nitrogen requirement.