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Nutritional strategy

This refers to the way in which the plant obtains nutrients.


Not carnivorous, parasitic nor saprophytic

Most plants are in this category and are green tinged and obtain all of their nutrients from soil and light.

Carnivorous

Plants kill insects in special traps formed from their leaves. They then secrete enzymes which dissolve the insect's soft parts, and absorb the nutrients released. Examples of carnivorous plants are sundews (Drosera), which use sticky hairs on their leaves to trap the insects, two genera of pitcher plants (Nepenthes), socalled because their leaves are modified into pitcher-like traps, and the bladder-worts or fairies' aprons (Utricularia) which use sophisticated bladder-traps for catching small invertebrates.

Saprophyte

Plants extract their nutrients from rotting vegetation or other nutrient sources such as associations with fungi. They do not parasitize living plants. Saprophytes are defined as plants that completely lack chlorophyll.

Parasitic totally or patially on other plants, haustoria usually present

Plants are partially or totally parasitic on other plants, and rely on them for some or all of their nutrition. Mistletoes, for instance, attach themselves to the stems of other plants and draw all their water and mineral nutrients from their host plant. They produce their own organic carbon by photosynthesis. Many members of the family Santalaceae (quondongs, sandalwood) are root parasites, but only derive some of their nutrients from the host plant.