Is it true that there is a carnivorous plant in the Valencian mountains? Well yes, as it is also true that today I went to photograph it, on a day when it really did not meet the conditions to travel to the abrupt place where it lives, since in recent weeks we have endured an intense storm of heavy rains, leaving the mountains with the flooded ravines.
It has been a very difficult route, avoiding innumerable ravines with water up to the ankles, with hardly any sign of any path, so I have had to do many sections going up the hillside avoiding the Mediterranean scrub, which we all know its characteristics of very hard branches and thorny, settled on rocky ground that makes it extremely difficult to move to the calcareous shelters where this plant lives.
The stillness of the morning in the solitude of the Barranco de la Hoz, is sometimes interrupted by the distant harsh and splintered caw of the crows up on the belts, which flying above my head must have thought that what is this madman doing? climbing these walls. And indeed, they are somewhat right, but it was the last opportunity I had this season to photograph the flowering of this species, so I did not have to think about the difficulties.
Carnivorous plants obtain almost all their nutrients by capturing insects, in the case of the pinguicula, living in calcareous walls where nutrients rich in nitrogen and phosphorus are scarce, essential for the manufacture of plant proteins, they must resort to a particular strategy that consists of secreting, through the glands of the tiny hairs on its leaves, a sugary and sticky substance (mucilage) that attracts various insects: mosquitoes, spiders, moths, ants, etc. Once trapped, the insects begin to move to escape and activate other adjacent glands that secrete more mucilage, making it impossible for the prey to escape. From this moment on, the leaves produce digestive enzymes that digest the soft parts of the insect on the same leaf, turning them into an external stomach. Later, a reabsorption of the fluids resulting from digestion occurs. As the glands are activated only once, the leaves must be renewed periodically in order to continue this complex process. The enzymes produced are not capable of digesting the exoskeleton of the trapped insects, made of chitin, so they become empty structures after the digestion process and remain perched as such on the leaves.
Special thanks for the indications of the ADENE botanist Santiago Sanchez, a great connoisseur of this mountain range. I leave you the link where he talks about the pinguicula: adene.es/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/GRASILLA-nueva.pdf