Foxes, fishers, and falcons aren't the only meat-eaters in New York. While the most common carnivores usually have at least two legs (and eyes), there are four plants in the Empire State that are predators too.

While the stereotype is that carnivorous plants prefer a warmer climate (the famous Venus Flytrap can be found in North and South Carolina), the truth is that four different leafy carnivores actually prefer the wetlands of New York State. Here's how to identify them.

A carnivorous purple pitcher plant and flower
Purple pitcher plants in New York State can be identified by their reddish green leaves and red flower (IMNATURE/49pauly via Canva)
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Carnivorous Purple Pitcher Plants in New York

Pitcher plants use "passive pitfall traps" to secure their meals. First, their nectar "intoxicates" insects, causing them to fall into the bottom of a pitcher-shaped flower from which they can't escape. The plant can be identified by a circular pattern of leaves at its base, reddish/green leaves with purple veins, and its single "nodding" bright red flower. 

Photos of the carnivorous sundew plant
Sundew plants are one of four types of carnivorous plants in New York State (tamaw/xalanx via Canva)
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Carnivorous Sundew Plants in New York

Both the round-leaved sundew and spoon-leaved sundew (above) excrete a sticky substance that attracts and traps insects. Then, "nearby tentacles coil around the insect and smother it", according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). They can be identified by their dewy tentacles and often grow near pitcher plants (above) and bladderwort plants (below).

Photos of horned bladderwort plant and flower
Horned bladderwort can be identified by their bright yellow flowers and thin brown stalks growing out of shallow water or wet soil (Michel VIARD/Mantonature via Canva)
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Carnivorous Horned Bladderwort Plants in New York

The horned bladderwort takes more of a flytrap approach to catch their prey. Instead of a "mouth" snapping closed, however, the plant has hairs that trigger a "trapdoor" to open and the insect to fall into its "bladder". The plant can be found in shallow water or wet soil, with up to six bright yellow flowers growing from slender brown stalks.

Photos of the carnivorous butterwort plant
Butterwort plants can be found on permanently wet cliffs in central and western New York State (HHelene/ magicflute002 via Canva)
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Carnivorous Butterwort Plants in New York State

Similar to the bladderwort in name, but different in hunting technique, the butterwort plant is the fourth type of carnivorous plant in New York State. Similar to a sundew plant, the leaves of the butterwort plant trap insects with a sticky substance (above) and can be identified in New York by their purple flowers.

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Unfortunately, plants like the horned bladderwort are becoming less and less common due to their shrinking wetland habitats. Next time you find yourself in marshy conditions, take a minute to see if you're sharing the space with one of New York's four special carnivores.

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