A WALK last week along a track in the Ochils near Muckhart delivered a wonderful variety of wildflowers, including one with a healthy appetite.

The plant in question was butterwort, and a small cluster were gaining fragile tenure on a thin layer of moss and soil.

Only a butterwort could scratch a living here, for they are carnivorous plants that gain precious nutrients by trapping midges and other tiny insects on their star-shaped rosette of sticky leaves, which are then slowly digested.

The flower of the butterwort is a beautiful violet colour and held aloft on a long nodding stem growing out from the centre of the rosette.

In boggy margins in other parts of the Ochils, it is not unusual to find another insect eating plant – the sundew.

Although you will get your knees wet, it really is worthwhile to get down close and examine the sundew more carefully, because what at first seems a rather dull plant soon reveals on its waxy leaves a forest of little red hairs, each one tipped with a tiny glistening droplet.

These droplets are the deadly lure, the bait for the trap.

The droplets are irresistibly attractive to a midge or other small insect but once the midge alights on the leaf it is trapped by sticky glands and slowly digested by a cocktail of enzymes.

During this whole grisly process, the leaf edge gradually curls inwards to enclose the prey much in the same manner as a clenched fist.

An upland bog is not the friendliest of places for a plant. The lack of nutrients is a particular problem, and this is why the sundew has evolved insect catching as an innovative way of gaining valuable sustenance on such barren and waterlogged ground.

The sundew is so named because these tiny droplets on the leaves resemble dewdrops that appear every morning.

The plant can be likened to a natural form of highly efficient flypaper, with one study estimating that sundews in a two-acre sized bog can trap about six million insects during a season.