5 Terrifying Carnivorous Plants That Could Be From Jumanji


December 22, 2017
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In the classic 1995 Robin Williams movie Jumanji, the poisonous and carnivorous plants were (in my humble opinion) the scariest terrors of the film.

If you haven't seen it, in the film two kids find and play a magical board game which causes their town to be overtaken by wild animals, plants, and other creatures from the jungle until they can somehow beat the game. In the brand new version, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, four teenagers are transported into the video game world of the plant-terror-laden jungle and must beat the game to escape and return to the real world.

Related: 4 Ways To Propagate Any Houseplant And Create An Indoor Jungle

Since the latter comes out this week, it got us thinking about those exotic, and somewhat terrifying, plants from the original. Giant, people-eating flowers! Poison-dart throwing plants!

These plants aren't real, but there are some super-terrifying plants around the world that can do some amazing things. The truth is, most real carnivorous plants start eating insects in order to supplement the poor mineral nutrition they obtain from the environment (not for any more fearsome reason.) But it's fun to observe them anyway.

Below, five alarmingly carnivorous plants that might as well be from Jumanji.

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pitcher plant
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Pitcher Plant

Gorgeous and dangerous pitcher plants can be found all over the world. They function by eating bugs that fall into their open mouths, which are filled with liters of digestive fluid. The biggest carnivorous plant in the world is a pitcher plant, Nepenthes rajah in Malaysia. Its traps can sometimes reach 40 centimeters in height. This “king of pitcher plants” eats insects like ants, but it's so big that it sometimes eats rats, small birds, lizards, and frogs. Yikes!

Related: 6 Gorgeous Ways To Use Plants And Thrift Store Finds To Totally Makeover Your Home

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Bladderworts, like the Greater Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris) pictured are basically carnivorous ships: they are free-floating water plants, and do not put down roots in the ground. They are found everywhere on the planet, and they capture tiny organisms like water fleas by sucking them into their bladder-like organs and digesting them. You would never know what's going on down below, because their flowers above the surface are pretty, colorful, and inviting.

Looking to add some less terrifying houseplants to your home? Here are some fun ideas for decorating with succulents:

venus fly trap
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Venus Fly Trap

The most famous and widely known of the predatory plants is probably the Venus Fly Trap, Dionaea muscipula. These green plants look like they have tiny, gaping mouths—and in a way, they do. Their open are equipped with short, stiff hairs called trigger hairs. When anything touches these hairs, the leaves snap shut immediately, trapping whatever is inside, and then slowly breaking it down with digestive fluids. Luckily, they're only big enough to trap bugs!

Related: 11 Super Spooky Plants That Are Perfect For Your Halloween Garden

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"If an insect ever evolved the brains to write a horror novel, the monster in that novel would probably be a sundew," California Carnivores writes. Sundews (Drosera) contain somewhere between 100-200 species all over the planet, everywhere except Antarctica. They're brightly colored and beautiful in order to attract prey, but once an insect lands, the stalked mucilaginous tentacles covering their leaf surfaces become lethal—they trap and digest the poor sucker. The pretty name, "Sundew" refers to the glistening drops of mucilage that look like morning dew. Sundews are beautifully diverse—they vary in size and design, ranging from circular leaves to thin linear ones.

Related: 7 Plants That Can Actually Purify Your Indoor Air

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Butterworts, like Pinguicula vulgaris, the common butterwort, shown above, use their sticky leaves to trap and digest insects, just like sundews. Bugs probably climb onto them looking for water, but are dismayed to find out that the droplets are actually mucilage and digestive enzymes. When the insect starts to struggle, it triggers more glands and gets even more covered in the sticky, deadly stuff. We're glad humans have nothing to fear from these succulent-like plants!