2015 Photo Contest, Nature, 2nd prize

Vegetables with an Attitude


Christian Ziegler

National Geographic Magazine/GEO

04 September, 2013

Hardwicke’s woolly bat uses the pitchers of Nepenthes hemsleyana as a day roost. In exchange for housing the tiny three-gram bat, the plant benefits from the bat’s droppings, which are rich in both nitrogen and phosphorus. The liquid level in the pitchers of this species is very low to avoid harming the sleeping bat.

Carnivorous plants have evolved repeatedly in different parts of the world, always in response to super low nutrient environments. While other plants are struggling to find nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, carnivorous plants catch these themselves in ingenious ways. Until recently scientists thought they all operated in a similar way, catching bugs and digesting them. However, we are now discovering that things are much more complicated, with an amazing variety of complex plant-animal interactions.

About the photographer

Christian Ziegler

He is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and has been widely published in other magazines such as Geo, Smithsonian, and BBC Wildlife. Christian’s aim is to hig...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
100.0 mm
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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