Predator plants

A bog is a diverse wetland habitat where you can find plants to eat…and plants that do the eating. We take a tour of a bog in Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania.



I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

Welcome to 'SciTech Now, ' our weekly program bringing you the latest breakthroughs in science, technology, and innovation.

Let's get started.

A bog is a diverse wetland habitat where you can find plants to eat and plants that do the eating.

We take a tour of a bog in Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania.

Here is a look.


Welcome to Black Moshannon State Park, 3, 400 acres of protected land surrounded by another 43, 000 acres of state forest.

It's about as private as public land gets.

When you're here, don't count on cellphone service or Wi-Fi.

The tweets and snaps are organic.

The science is all natural, and the bog is really worth sharing.

A bog is wetland area, so you're going to have soils that are going to help hold the water in, low nutrient count counts, and you're going to have plants that are only specifically found in the bog like the carnivorous plants, the leatherleaf, and the sphagnum moss.

Don't worry.

We're going to talk about the carnivores, but the moss is the main ingredient in this habitat.

The sphagnum moss is found all throughout out bog area, and as the rain comes down, as water is filtering into it, it actually can clean out any pollution that may be in the water, so it helps give us good water quality.

The water is clean, but it's not very nutritious.

The moss absorbs the minerals and replaces them with acids, not a great environment for plants unless those plants have another source of nutrition.

Black Moshannon is home to three types of carnivorous plants.

The pitcher plant is the easiest to find.

That is our pitcher plant colony.

There's a few of those scattered throughout our bog area.

They grow in very large quantities.

As the bugs fly into it and go down inside the pitchers, it's actually producing an enzyme which is going to break down the insects, so it's able to get some of its food that way.

The pitcher plant is absorbing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.

So does the sundew, but it has a different strategy.

The sundew is one of our carnivorous plants, and that is going to look like the Sun, with little rays coming off of it.

And the little tiny dewdrops on it are actually a type of glue that the plant produces so the insects get stuck to that.

And they actually will kind of close around it just a little tiny bit, and that is going to break down the insects and get its food.

When it comes to the bladderwort, all of the action is happening under the water.

Bladderwort is found throughout our lake area.

It actually looks like seaweed, and it looks like it has little tiny black seeds on it.

Those seeds are actually the bladders, and they have a little tiny trapdoor on it.

So as an insect, such as mosquito larvae, would swim by it, it triggers that door, and it opens up, and it sucks in the water and the insect, and then closes itself around it.

The carnivores love the bog, but don't get the wrong impression.

This is not a desolate wasteland where all bugs meet their doom.

It's an intricate and diverse ecosystem.

We have over 80 different kinds of dragonflies and damselflies here.

You can see larger animals, such as bear and bobcat like to be in those areas.

And it's also providing nice, clean water for the fish that like to live in our lake area behind us.

It's also one of the only places in Pennsylvania where you can pick wild cranberries.

Okay, let's do this.

It's pretty sour.

It's good.