Carnivorous plants are plants that get their nutrients by trapping and digesting insects and other small animals. They are typically found in areas with very poor nitrogen-depleted soils.
There are three main types of carnivorous plants: traps, tubes, and sticky surfaces. Traps include our own North Carolina Venus flytrap, which capture insects by opening and closing a jaw-like mechanism. Plants with sticky surfaces include the butterworts and the sundews. Tubes include the pitcher plants and the tropical pitcher plants. Both groups use color to attract insects down a long tube, from which they can’t get out.
Pitcher plants are an example of convergent evolution. Tropical pitcher plants are native to Southeast Asia, and belong to a completely different family than our North Carolinian pitcher plants. Both groups arrived at a similar solution (the tube) to a similar problem (lack of nutrients), through two completely different evolutionary pathways.