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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2005

A Deadly Plant that Looks Like a Snake

An unsuspecting fly tastes the sweet nectar on the leaves of a plant. It follows the nectar trail into what looks like a strange “room” with lots of light coming in from the ceiling. Then it suddenly realizes it’s trapped. Several see-through areas at the ceiling of the “room” look like exits, so it flies toward them, trying to escape. However, the “windows” are not exits, but only tricks designed to fool the insect, and the fly becomes confused. It flies toward the back of the room and hits the wall, falling into a deep tube. Inside the tube are tiny hair-like structures that point downward. These “hairs” trap the fly and push it downward into a pool of liquid. The liquid is especially designed to digest the insect and use the nutrition to help the meat-eating plant stay alive.
As you may have guessed, this scene describes what can happen to an insect that finds its way into a plant known as the Cobra Lily. This amazing plant gets its name because it looks like a cobra with fangs, ready to strike. Of course, the plant does not strike like a snake, but God designed it with its own deadly abilities, at least as far as insects go. The bulb, or hood, at the top of the plant has several see-through “windows.” The Cobra Lily lures insects into its hood by using sweet nectar that insects like to eat. When the insects get inside the hood, they realize they are trapped and they try to fly out of the “windows.” But the windows are not exits. Eventually, the insect falls down the long “neck” of the Cobra Lily and is digested.
Isn’t it amazing that God gave some plants abilities to trick insects and capture them in specially designed traps? If we were to be walking through the woods and found a piece of paper with the design for a trap like the Cobra Lily has, we would think that someone quite smart had come up with the trap. So, when we see the Cobra Lily that uses its trap perfectly to stay alive, we can understand that God, the ultimate Designer, knew exactly what He was doing when He designed its trap.


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