Beware the Killer Spuds

December 8, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Brad Moldofsky

No doubt headlines like this will be cropping up soon. English scientists now think that many more plants than were once thought are actually carnivorous. Potatoes included! And they’re hungry!

Some of us will recall that in Jon Krakauer’s book (and the movie, replete with Eddie Vedder songs), Into The Wild, the protagonist died after accidentally eating toxic wild potato roots or seeds. Although the jury is still out on the cause of death, this notion that potatoes might be hunting and eating humans (albeit veeeryyyy sloooooowwwwwly) is intriguing and causes me to reconsider the leftover tubers buried in a few sites around my house.

Am I in danger? Is my family’s safety at risk from vegetable attack?

In short, no. But upon further reflection, also no. Still, the article reminds us that plant roots ultimately grab their nutrition from whatever happens to be decomposing nearby. And while digestion via root is much less dramatic than being swallowed by a Venus Flytrap, the whole story serves as a reminder of that crazy old circle-of-life thing and that, ultimately, we all wind up back in the ecosystem sooner or later, part of somebody, or something’s next meal.

And yes, that was a pun in the first sentence, and it was intended.