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tree. You’re standing in a grove of poisonous manchineel trees. You don’t even have to touch one to be in trouble. Never stand under its branches to get out of


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the rain. Rain splashing off the tree and onto your skin will cause rashes and itching. Never touch its leaves or its bark. Don’t try building a fire from its branches. T e poisonous smoke will make you sick. T e source of all this danger comes from


inside the tree. T e tree has a milky sap in its branches. T is same poison is found in the tree’s fruit. Its apples would cause a person’s throat to swell and blister. T e sap that makes this tree so dangerous is


also what helps this tree survive. Animals don’t nibble on it, and people avoid it at all costs. Like this tree, all plants have parts that


help them meet their basic needs, grow, and survive. Some plants, though, use their parts in a diff erent, deadly way to survive. Some plants have parts that trap prey. Other


plants strangle their competition. Still others steal food from their neighbors. T ese unusual plants use their parts in unusual ways.


top right there! Don’t go anywhere near that


Catching Bugs In most plants, leaves help make food. T ey use the sun’s energy to mix water with carbon dioxide, a gas in the air. T is makes food for the plant and gives off oxygen. We call this process photosynthesis. For a sundew plant, leaves have another job,


though. Sundew plants are carnivorous. T ey eat meat. So their leaves make food, but also help catch food. Sundew leaves attract insects. T ey seem to


sparkle with dew. Yet that dew is really a sticky sap. T e sap coats the inner leaves of the plant. When an insect lands on the leaves, it can


become trapped. T en the plant’s leaves curl around the body of the insect. T e sundew kills and digests the insect. T e pimpernel sundew uses two kinds of


leaves that work together to capture prey. A fly might know to stay away from the glistening leaves in the center. Instead, it might land on the longer, outer leaves of the pimpernel. T ey aren’t sticky, but they aren’t safe, either. Once the fly lands there, these leaves snap forward. T ey fling the fly into the sticky center of the plant. Now the sap covers and traps the fly. T e fly has become the sundew’s breakfast.


12 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER


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