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What is the Corkscrew Plant? (Explaining Carnivorous Plant Traps)

Learn more about the mysterious corkscrew carnivorous plants, how they eat, what they eat, where they prefer to live and some frequently asked questions.

This is a close look at a potted carnivorous corkscrew plant.

We’ve created a little series, starting with 5 Types of Carnivorous Plants and How They Trap, looking into all of the absurd ways that carnivorous plants function. We’ve taken a closer look into each and made it through pitfall traps, snap traps, suction traps, flypaper traps, and now we’re going to look into the lobster pot trap. This is the fifth and final explanation of how each of these traps work.

There is only one genus of carnivorous plant that uses this type of trapping, and it’s called the Corkscrew Plant. We figured explaining the Corkscrew plant would be the best way to show you the incredibly wild and adaptive way of accessing nutrients.

Related: Pitfall Trap | Flypaper Trap | Snap Trap | Bladderwort | Thank You Flowers

How the Corkscrew Plant Uses the Lobster Pot Trap


That’s kind of a confusing sentence, so let’s break it down. The reason why it’s called a lobster pot trap is that it functions in the way that prey can enter with ease, but are unable to exit the trap. But how does a planet employ this function?

A carnivorous corkscrew plant growing on soil.

The Corkscrew plant is a very odd semi-aquatic carnivorous plant. It sports very showy yellow or purple flowers on the surface of the soil, masking all of the menacing carnivorous behaviour below. The surface leaves are shaped in a rosette, which conceals the leaves that exist below.

These soil-dwelling leaves of the plant grow in a hollow corkscrew-like shape and exist where a root system would. These leave don’t produce chlorophyll, which is an extremely odd adaptation for plants seeing as photosynthesis is what classifies them as being a plant.

The corkscrews insides are lined with directional hairs, making it so prey enters from slits along the leaf’s body and glides down, but if they try to move backwards they will find themselves to be stuck. The corkscrew leaves end in a chamber, which is basically the stomach of the Corkscrew plant where digestion occurs.

Clusters of blooming carnivorous corkscrew plants.

What Do Corkscrew Plants eat?

This is a type of carnivorous plant which should probably be labelled as an insectivorous plant since the only thing it is capable of eating is soil-dwelling protozoans and tiny tiny insects.

A look at microscopic plankton.

Where Do They Live?

Corkscrew plants prefer to live in very nutrient-poor soils, hence the reason for this bizarre adaptation. They have can be in Central America, South America, and in Africa as well.

A look at the bayou swamp with cypress trees and moss.


  • rosette leaves guiding up into showy yellow or purple flowers
  • subsurface corkscrew leaves, hallway to the digestion chamber
  • directional hairs within the corkscrew leaves
  • less than an inch long
  • leaves don’t produce chlorophyll
  • it is still unknown what exactly attracts prey towards the corkscrew plant


How to propagate a corkscrew plant?

Ensure that the soil is very very damp in both the existing environment and the one being transferred to. This can be done by seed transfer, or by pulling one of the corkscrew leaves and planting it.

Are corkscrew plants carnivorous?

More and more carnivorous plants are being labelled as insectivorous to be more accurate, as some of them are far too small to capture anything larger than a flea. In the case of the Corkscrew, it digests tiny water-dwelling microorganisms.

What’s the ideal environment for a corkscrew plant?

A very damp environment, considering that these plants are semi-aquatic. Water-logged soil is the best way to describe their ideal home.