The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: About Triantha

Triantha occidentalis
Triantha occidentalis
subsp. occidentalis
A: The plant family Tofieldiaceae consists of only four small genera. The species in these genera are themselves small, and somewhat inconspicuous plants.

One of these genera, Triantha, consists of four species. Of these species, one is restricted to Japan, and the other three are found in the USA and Canada.

Of these four species, one (Triantha occidentalis (S.Watson) R.R Gates) is thought to be carnivorous. The evidence for its carnivory looks good. When it is in flower, it produces numerous small glandular hairs. These glands capture insects, and then release digestive enzymes. Nutrients from the captured prey have been found to be translocated to the plant with an efficiency comparable to other carnivorous plants such as Drosera. Finally, these plants are often found in nutrient poor habitats (with other carnivorous plants), so they have motive!

As more is learned, it will be interesting to see which other species in these genera might also be carnivorous.

Oh....the common name comes from the fact that these plants bear a similarity to the moderately-related plants in the genus Asphodelus. But if you know me, you know I cannot abide common names. Why the hell would Triantha be harder to say than false-asphodel? Especially since asphodel is essentially the same as a Latin name itself? Why not just call them "true triantha"?

Better yet...Triantha!

Page citations: Lin, Q. et al. 2021; Rice, B.A. 2021.

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Revised: 2021
©Barry Rice, 2021