Carl Zimmer has written a great essay for National Geographic about the indignities suffered when fauna are eaten by flora. It's accompanied by Helene Schmitz's utterly beautiful images of deadly plants, and we've got a lusciously disturbing gallery.

I think most of these sticky, tendrilicious flowers would probably make HP Lovecraft's heart go all aflutter. Zimmer writes about Darwin's fascination with these unusual plants:

Darwin expanded his studies from sundews to other species, eventually recording his observations and experiments in 1875 in a book, Insectivorous Plants. He marveled at the exquisite quickness and power of the Venus flytrap, a plant he called "one of the most wonderful in the world." He showed that when a leaf snapped shut, it formed itself into "a temporary cup or stomach," secreting enzymes that could dissolve the prey. He noted that a leaf took more than a week to reopen after closing and reasoned that the interlocking spines along the margin of the leaf allowed undersized insects to escape, saving the plant the expense of digesting an insufficient meal. Darwin likened the hair-trigger speed of the Venus trap's movement-it snaps shut in about a tenth of a second-to the muscle contraction of animals. But plants don't have muscles and nerves. So how could they react like animals?

Want to find out? You'll have to read the article!

via National Geographic (Thanks Marilyn Terrell!)