Fatal Attraction

Carnivorous plant exhibit returns to Golden Gate Park

Venus fly trap (Dionaea).  Photo: Nina Sazevich

Venus fly trap (Dionaea). Photo: Nina Sazevich

Fall prey to some of nature’s most alluring and murderous creations this spring as carnivores return to San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers. The Special Exhibits Gallery will be transformed into a swampy paradise filled with hundreds of meat-eating plants in a new exhibit, Chomp 3: They Came from the Swamp! Visitors will get a bug’s eye view of these peckish plants to learn how they have adapted to attract, capture and eat prey, as well as how they have perfected and honed their hunting skills.

Sundews (Drosera).  Photos: Eric Shapiro

Sundews (Drosera). Photos: Eric Shapiro

The beauty and diversity of species on display will dazzle even the most squeamish. These natural born killers include the Venus flytrap (Dionaea), equipped with highly sensitive hairs that detect the moment when a “meal” has landed in its clutches; pitcher plants (Sarracenia and Nepenthes), with a deceptive beauty that is often the last thing insects see as they plummet to their deaths, drown, and are consumed; the sticky sundew (Drosera), with leaves covered in mucusy tentacles that slowly wrap over prey; and the seemingly harmless looking butterwort (Pinguicula), its gluey leaves, however, often covered in small insect corpses.

Large models of several species throughout the exhibit give visitors a taste of what it might be like to be a tiny insect in a world of towering meat eaters waiting for their next meal. Enter if you dare.