I've just seen a report about specialized herbivorous plants which build special traps to catch falling leaves from trees above them.

The only thing, which I'm missing is the correct name of this plant. Do you have any idea what plant(s) could this be?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. Did you try to go through the wikipedia list of carnivorous plants? $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to misuse either of the term 'carnivorous' or 'vegetarian' in your title! You should have a look at the wikipedia entries for vegetarinism or carnivores $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 22:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The term "herbivorous" plants would be a more accurate description of the plants that you are asking about. $\endgroup$
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ You say you're missing the 'correct' name of the plant - does that mean the report gives an 'incorrect' (common) name for it? If so, could you post it? $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ Some bromelias growing up in the trees in tropical rainforests catch falling rainwater and probably leaves to extract nutriens. See here. Is that what you mean? $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


Many plants do this, with varying degrees of specialization - for some it is perhaps incidental, others have evolved this strategy to gain nutrients (often water as well). You are probably thinking of bromeliads, a diverse group of plants in which many species have specialized leaves that form cups at the base to collect water and litter. These structures, a type of phytotelmata, have similarities to some carnivorous plant traps.

These tank bromeliads are able to efficiently absorb nutrients from animal or plant matter which falls into the tank:

Considerable absorbed nitrogen is mobilized in the rosette center. Tested bromeliads appear to be well equipped to utilize minerals and organic nitrogen originating from tank-impounded plant and animal debris as nutrients.

This litter catching habit occurs in other lithophytic and epiphytic plants, i.e. those which don't grow in soil, because it allows them to capture nutrients when growing on rocks or trees. Examples include the staghorns/elkhorns and basket ferns:

They form a characteristic 'basket' that collect litter and organic debris, hence the common name. The collected debris decompose into humus, providing the plants with nutrients it would otherwise not have received from being suspended above the ground.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @nicfit! But it's not a bromeliads plant. I have them on my own in my home. But the plant I've seen was definitely no bromeliads. But thanks to your post, I've found the real plant I'm looking for. Thanks a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Ionic
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 18:34

After all, I found the answer myself.

The special plant I'm looking for is the Nepenthes ampullaria. It has developed away from the "normal" carnivorous plants to a more detritivorous species.

Nepenthes ampullaria has specialized her pitcher to catch falling leaves from trees above her.


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