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Killer plant ‘eats’ great tit at Somerset nursery

August 6, 2011

It is believed to be only the second time such a carnivorous plant has been documented eating a bird

A plant has killed and “eaten” a great tit at a garden nursery in Somerset.

Nurseryman Nigel Hewitt-Cooper, from West Pennard, was inspecting his tropical garden when he discovered one of his pitcher plants had trapped the bird.

He said he was “absolutely staggered” to find it had caught the creature.

It is believed to be only the second time such a carnivorous plant has been documented eating a bird anywhere in the world.

“I’ve got a friend who’s studied these particular plants extensively in the wild and he’s never found evidence of any of them having caught birds,” said Mr Hewitt-Cooper.

“The other documented time was in Germany a few years ago and that was in cultivation, not in the wild.

‘Become wedged’

“The larger ones frequently take frogs, lizards and mice, and the biggest ones have been found with rats in them, but to find a bird in one is pretty unusual.”

The pitcher plant is a genus of Nepenthes from South East Asia which attracts and traps insects in a pool of liquid which it then digests.

Mr Hewitt-Cooper said he thought the blue tit had been attracted to the plant on Saturday by the insects and landed on its leaf.

“I think it must have leant in to pluck out an insect that was floating on the fluid inside, tipped in too far and become wedged and unable to get out.”

Mr Hewitt-Cooper has been growing carnivorous plants such as pitcher plants, Venus fly traps and sundews for 30 years, and has won several gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.

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