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wonderful-pitcher-plantOriginal story by Nilum Jajodia

This story is intended for the child studying in Upper Kindergarten and the pitcher plant is a part of their environmental studies curriculum.

Introduction

In the beginning of time man had a tail. As man started to walk on 2 legs and use his hands effectively, his tail slowly disappeared. Now man has no tail. This is called biological evolution. Biological evolution does not happen in the blink of an eye. Indeed it takes millions of years.

We have been learning about plants and have seen many beautiful plants and flowers in our journey through the plant kingdom. We have seen how they make food; we have seen how they draw food from the soil, to help them grow.

Today I am going to tell you the story of a plant which changed itself so that it would not go hungry.

Millions of years ago, in the deepest of deep forests in Indonesia, there lived a family of plants. Mummy, papa, brother, sister and baby plant. They made their home on top of a very big tree. The tree gave them the shelter they required but it was not able to give them enough food to grow into healthy plants. They were always hungry and craving for food.

Was there a better place for them to live? Would they be better off living on the ground rather than on tree tops? They often discussed these issues.

Some of their cousins who lived on the ground in marshes and peat bogs in distant lands were having the same trouble-- they too were unable to get adequate food from the soil because the soil had no food to give them.

This state of affairs continued for millions of years and the plants always wanted food.

To the onlooker, they lived an idyllic existence.

The beautiful insets would visit them; walk all over their leaves, the bee would buzz overhead. The insects treated the leaves like their very own playground and as a bonus found food on these plants. So they were happy.

One morning, the baby plant woke up feeling rather funny and a little different. He looked around him and found his mother, father, brother and sister looking different too.

His own body felt like it was covered in a dress made of wax. Of course, it was not as if in the past he had not felt something different happening to him, but today seemed different. This set him worrying- how will the insects walk all over me when I am wearing this beautiful waxy coat?

He felt the now familiar pain- what was it? Yes of course, he was hungry, as usual!

To forget his pain and hunger, he took a closer look at his body which he felt was changing. BUT WHY?

He looked once again at his mother and found she did look different from what she looked earlier. Was he imagining things? He looked harder.

Yes, the leaf on his mother's body had turned itself in and it looked like a pitcher. She also had a hood. So beautiful! He could not take his eyes off his beautiful mother.

And then he saw it, right there in front of him. He saw an ant walk all over her waxy, beautiful dress and disappear. Where was the ant? He waited, she will be back, he thought. But the wait seemed endless. He realised then that the ant had fallen right into the pitcher.

He waited patiently for the ant to walk out of the pitcher. He waited, and waited and waited for the longest time, but the ant was not to be seen.

He looked at his mother, who he felt looked very happy and content. Yes, she had just eaten an ant and was not weak and hungry any more.

Baby plant looked at himself and realised he looked just like his mother. He waited for his meal and what fun; a bee was buzzzzzzzzzing right over head. Then it landed on the leaf, blissfully unaware of the danger that lay in store. Walking on the leaf, as it was in the habit of doing, plop, it fell right into the pitcher and found himself drowning in the bubbling nectar that brewed at the bottom of the pitcher. In no time at all, the bee was digested. Baby plant felt his stomach was full. He could not remember a time when he was not hungry. But today was different- he had had a very good meal.

Baby plant was not hungry any more.

After years and years of being hungry his body had changed and he was now an insect eating plant, an carnivorous plant unlike his other plant friends.

Because his body looked like a pitcher of water, his friends tried calling him cup. "Hey cup" they said, but that did not sound good. Then they tried jug but that did not sound good either. Then one of his friends suggested "why not pitcher, since he looks like a pitcher"? Yes, why not indeed. So, they called him the pitcher plant.

So it is today. We see these plants in many dense forests around the world living under very difficult conditions but eating insects in order to grow and protecting themselves from the rain with the use of the hood they have on their heads.

The wonderful Pitcher Plant - Poem

I am a pitcher the pitcher plant,
I am so happy when I eat an ant

The tiny bee the worm and the bug,
I like to eat them, it's so much fun.

I am a meat eater a carnivore
And eating insects I like it so,

But let me tell you - it wasn't always so,
I looked like all my friends, very long ago.

I wore my leaves straight, O, so very straight
They were not like pitchers, very long ago,

These little insects they didn't interest me
I was a vegetarian, yes! That was me.

I am a pitcher the pitcher plant,
I am so happy when I eat an ant

The tiny bee the worm and the bug,
I like to eat them, it's so much fun.