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Killer plants: dangerously beautiful

Karin Kompatscher – Curator of the Exhibition

The green carnivores: Special exhibition from 1st of April to the 15th of November with living plants, interactive experience stations and guided tours.

They encite, seduce, deceive and are thought to be dangerously beautiful: carnivorous plants. These bizarre bohemiens are spread all over the world, but only very few know of South Tyrol’s own clever trap masters. The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle dedicate a special exhibition to this exciting subject, titled “Killer Plants – The Green Carnivores”

Why do plants eat meat?
Kompatscher: Necessity is the mother of invention. Carnivorous plants usually grow on soil that is very scarce in nutrients, like swamps, moores, tropical forests or where branches grow out of tree trunks. This means there’s almost no minerals and very little fertilizer for them to feed on. That’s the reason the carnivorous plants catch various insects.

How do they catch their prey?
Carnivorous plants have developed different methods to bait, catch and digest insects. Their ‘traps’ are usually deformed leaves. There’s ‘active traps’ that move in order to lure the prey in, while others called ‘passive traps’ do not. We differentiate between sticky traps, pitfall traps, snap traps, suction traps and eel traps.

Where do carnivorous plants grow?
Everywhere, except for desert regions and the high north. Even in South Tyrol there’s carnivorous plants: Drosera, grows in swamps; Pinguicula, that grows on wet grounds, moors and lime rock; and the Utricularia, but sadly one plant of this genus is an endangered species.

In your opinion, what makes carnivorous plants so exciting?
Their beauty and artfulness. Carnivorous plants have to be attractive for their victims. They have to emit a luring scent and offer delicious treats. It’s similar to flowers and their pollinators, just that carnivorous plants attract the prey with its last meal. Their beauty becomes a death trap.

The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle

  • 12 Hectare
  • 80 Garden landscapes
  • 4 Garden worlds
    –  Forests of the World
    –  Sun Gardens
    –  Water and Terraced Gardens
    –  Landscapes of South Tyrol
  • 7 km of paths
  • 10 Artists Pavilions
  • 10 Experience Stations
  • Trauttmansdorff Castle, once the summer residence of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary: today South Tyrol’s Museum of Turism.