Botanists have discovered a new, carnivorous plant. It is the western false asphodel. This is a white flower that is relatively common along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest in the USA and on Canada's western coast. It was actually first discovered in 1879, but botanists back then did not realise the innocuous-looking flower was actually a meat eater. Researchers have recently determined that sticky, tiny hairs along the bloom's stem produce a digestive enzyme that other carnivorous plants use to ensnare and eat insects. Professor Sean Graham, a botanist with the University of British Columbia, told the NPR news agency: "We had no idea it was carnivorous."
There are fewer than 1,000 carnivorous plant species known to scientists. The western false asphodel is the first to be discovered in 20 years. Professor Graham believes there may be more carnivores among our common flora. He said: "I suspect that there might be more carnivorous plants out there than we think." He believes many people will be surprised that the familiar asphodel is actually a carnivore. Co-researcher Dr Qianshi Lin said: "What's particularly unique about this carnivorous plant is that it traps insects near its insect-pollinated flowers." He added: "This seems like a conflict between carnivory and pollination because you don't want to kill the insects that are helping you reproduce."