This is unrelated to my recent invention of a blood salad, but an interesting philosophical question too.
According to a recent study by Kew Gardens, more plants than had previously been considered carnivorous have been found to possess systems for killing and digesting insects, so that they can absorb the nutrients to supplement those found in the soil.
I have always had a soft-spot for carnivorous plants – I’ve tended venus flytraps on a couple of occasions (the latter of which, Adonis, even flowered at one point). The previously accepted carnivorous plants (including the aforementioned, the sundew and the pitcher plant) are mostly swamp-dwellers, who struggle to get sufficient nutrients from the low-quality soil they grow in. That they naturally live in swamps make it quite difficult to keep them, because they must remain constantly drenched – I had to water Adonis at least twice a day, and would ask a flatmate to water him if I were out.
(Almost) all plants have a root system from which they absorb nutrients and water to help them grow, and most of the nutrients in the soil come from decaying plant matter. The nutrients are directly recycled. Artificial fertilising – in the sense that the process is artificial, rather than the fertiliser itself (I would deep muckspreading to be an artificial process) – speeds this process up through the introduction of high nutrient content matter to the soil.
The study’s reclassification suggests that even such benign plants as tomatoes and potatoes
capture and kill small insects with sticky hairs on their stems and then absorb nutrients through their roots when the animals decay and fall to the ground.
If this is the case, then the plants themselves are feeding on animal life. What implications does this have for vegetarianism?