A submission to the Anatomically Correct series!

Yes, a man-sized pitcher plant would (probably) be realistic, and yes that would sure be a man eating plant.

But, this question is not asking about those man eating plants, it is about the fiction land, trope, man-eating plant, that usually look a lot like these:




These kinds of man eating plants are often portrayed as:

  • Something belonging in the Plantae Kingdom

  • That has humans as it primary food source,

  • Is big enough to eat its prey in one bite;

  • has a clear, bulb-like mouth (head?) part with lip, teeth and tongue like appendages sustained by a single stem;

  • Actively chase people that get close enough but can't uproot itself

  • Show a high level of awareness of its surroundings,

  • Are able quickly grow/ungrow vines to tangle their prey.

**Bonus (a scientific explanation for these happening is appreciated, but not required) **

  • Seem to produce "saliva" and/or growl

  • Show some sentience (ex: will use the vines to manipulate tools, block possible escape routes, rip tools of people's hands, identify threats)

Would a plant thing like that be able to realistically evolve? If so, what sort of environmental pressures would create it?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the images aren’t yours (probably not) say it explicitly and put a link to the original author. $\endgroup$
    – user84509
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ Has to do with stack exchange policy, I recommend going to the help center and tour of the site. $\endgroup$
    – user84509
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ It's doubtful that these would be able to survive and reproduce even if they were intelligent and could do all the other things you mentioned because a diet where they mostly eat humans probably wouldn't be sustainable. However, they would probably be able to produce saliva. Some pitcher plants, for example, produce a fluid that drowns and slowly dissolves insects. $\endgroup$
    – StarSeeker
    Apr 12 '21 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Humans are too smart to continue falling consistently for the same trick. We would learn to avoid the dangerous plants, just as we have with hazards in every environment on the surface of Earth. A man-eating plant only works if you are not expecting it, so it should be rare and isolated to a region that is unexplored (or relatively unknown to the victim). $\endgroup$
    – Jafego
    Apr 12 '21 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ An exceptionally large carnivorous plant that is willing to eat anything and just happens to catch a human on occasion is much more realistic. Any hunter whose strategy is to wait for prey to waltz into its mouth can't afford to be picky. Size by itself is not a huge issue, as many carnivorous plants can be scaled up without much problem. Producing a digestive enzyme in its "mouth" is very realistic, since this is what most carnivorous plants do. However, it would be unlikely to drool, as this would be wasteful. Venus flytraps don't start digestion until after they are closed. $\endgroup$
    – Jafego
    Apr 12 '21 at 19:05