Remember flying a kite as a child and getting it stuck in a tree despite the wind blowing the other direction? Or maybe you hanging a shirt or towel down on a branch only to turn around and find it gone? Did you ever think it might be something more... sinister? Don't worry, it's not just you.
The arbourus deltivorus
, or North American Kite-Eating Tree, can be found throughout the prairies and the midwestern United States. They are exceptionally sturdy trees, due partly to their diet, and have round leaves that fall in late autumn.
Like other carnivorous plants, the Kite-Eating Tree consumes nutrients beyond what most other plants do, and beyond what photosynthesis alone provides. It is, however, different from other carnivorous plants; instead of eating insects, the Kite-Eating Tree ingests cloths and other fabrics.
The Kite-Eating Tree is curious in that it grows in two different stages and uses a different food source in each stage. In the spring, it uses the energy it gets from the sun to sprout buds and leaves, but throughout the summer it will strengthen its trunk and branches by digesting fibres.
Similar to sundews and other 'flypaper' plants, the Kite-Eating Tree has thin tentacles that retract to trap their prey. The tentacles are thin, light, nearly invisible (though you may be able to distinguish them by squinting), and are held aloft by the slightest breeze. Upon contact with any woven material they gently pull the fabric toward the main body of the tree where it is consumed.
The Kite-Eating Tree a the natural enemy of spiders as it will devour their webs, sometimes catching the spiders at the same time. While generally preying only on fabrics, in hard times they have been known to known to eat the nests of birds, and even those of paper wasps, although paper consumption is more commonly associated with the tree's cousin, cathaeus deltivorus
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