2015 Photo Contest, Nature, Stories, 2nd prize

Vegetables with an Attitude

Photographer

Christian Ziegler

National Geographic Magazine/GEO

06 August, 2007

A complete colony of ants lives inside the stem of this plant, foraging inside the pitcher for insects. They are resistant to the plant’s digestive juices, and can swim in the liquid without harm. The ants take only large insects, which would disrupt the digestive chemistry of the pitcher if they were not removed.

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
1/128
Focal length
100.0 mm
F-Stop
14.0
ISO
250
Camera
Canon EOS 5D

This image is collected in