What is Venus Fly Trap?
Venus Fly Trap is a carnivorous plant. It is endemic to subtropical wetlands in North and South Carolina. Its prey is insects and arachnids. The plant traps the insects with the apex or terminal parts of the leaves. The terminal parts of the leaves have tiny hairs that trap the insects, and once it is trapped, it closes its leaves. It is listed as vulnerable in the IUCN.
The very mention of plants reminds us of the organisms that can only give something to us – be it oxygen, food, or flowers. But did you hear that there are some plants that are carnivorous? Yes, there are carnivorous plants. When I heard about them for the first time, my brain imagined them of some dangerous big plants that would gulp us down. When I started learning botany in high school, I realized that the insectivorous plants prey on insects, and they are just like normal plants. Today let us learn about some cool Venus Fly Trap facts. Shall we begin?
Before we start Venus Fly Trap facts, let us see the scientific classification of the plant.
Species: D. muscipula
Binomial Name: Dionaea muscipula
Venus Fly Trap Facts 1-10
1. The common name of the plant is Venus – the goddess of love in Roman mythology. Dionaea (the genus) is another name of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Muscipula is a Latin word meaning mousetrap.
2. It is also known as tipitiwitchet or tippity twitchet in slang terminology because it is similar to female genitalia in appearance.
3. Arthur Dobbs, a colonial governor of North Carolina, was the first person to describe the plant on 2 April 1759.
4. John Ellis, an English botanist, gave the scientific name to the Venus Fly Trap plant. He even gave the English name.
5. The plant has a bulbous stem that can grow around 3 to 10 centimeters long. Each stem has around four to seven leaves.
6. The leaf has two parts – the bottom part is a heart-shaped, flat petiole that is photosynthesis capable. The upper part has two lobes that form the trap.
7. Upper surface of the lobes has anthocyanin pigment, which gives pink color. It also secretes mucilage.
8. The upper surface also has three hair-like trichomes that are sensitive to the prey’s movements.
9. The edges of the lobes also have protrusions or cilia that create a mesh and prevent larger prey from escaping.
10. The holes that the mesh creates allows the smaller prey to escape because losing such small prey is far more viable than digesting them.
Venus Fly Trap Facts 11-20
11. The plant had different shapes and sizes of petiole and leaf.
12. It also has a flower present on a very long stem. Longhorn beetles, sweat bees, and checkered beetles are the pollinating agents.
13. It is usually seen in nitrogen and phosphorus poor areas. It grows slowly and can resist fire decently.
14. It is native to North Carolina and South Carolina. However, thanks to transplantation, it is seen in other parts of the world too. Florida and Washington are areas where you can find these plants in decent numbers.
15. It is seen in damp soil. It prefers peaty soil. It is because of the nutrient deficiency that forces the plant to trap insects.
16. It prefers an area with less than 10% canopy area. Fire helps the plant to kill competition for other nutrients.
17. You may be surprised to know, but the plant is cultivated. It takes four to five years to reach maturity. The seeds mature after four to six weeks after they are produced. The mature seeds are pear-shaped and black.
18. If the cultivation is done right, the plant lives for 20 to 30 years.
19. The plant doesn’t trap every animal that falls on the lobes. It mostly preys on arthropods. Its prey generally includes 33% ants, 30% spiders, 10% beetles, 10% grasshoppers, and less than 5% flying insects.
20. It is one of the few plants that can move rapidly. Other plants that can achieve this feat are sundews, Telegraph plant, Mimosa pudica, and bladderworts.
Venus Fly Trap Facts 11-20
21. The mechanism of trapping involves the interaction of turgor, growth, and elasticity.
22. When the lobes are open, they are convex in shape, i.e., bent outwards, and when the lobes are closed, they are concave in shape, i.e., forms a cavity.
23. The exact process is unknown to this day. However, when trigger hairs are stimulated, an action potential is created that passes through lobes and the midrib.
24. You may ask a question: how do trigger hairs get stimulated in the first place? When any organism falls or touches on the trigger hairs. It senses and closes the lobes.
25. Now, you may ask another question: How does the plant differentiate between an insect or some inedible object? Two trigger hairs must be touched back to back within 20 seconds for the plant to close the lobes.
26. Another option is that the insect has to touch a trigger hair twice or more times within a few seconds for the plant to snap shut. The lobes are closed in one-tenth of a second.
27. Venus Fly Trap is a good example of proving that plants have memory. The plant registers that its trigger hair has been touched and retains the memory.
28. It recalls the first touch when the second touch takes place. After closing the lobes, it continues to count the stimulations up to 5 touches and then starts digestion.
29. The plant takes 10 days to digest an insect, and after 10 days, the lobes open up and are ready for use again.
30. If you think that they can eat meat as we do, then you’re mistaken. Once a hamburger was given to it, it turned black and died.
Venus Fly Trap Facts 31-40
31. The traps or the lobes can be used by the plant only a few times. After a few times of use, the lobes permanently close and help in photosynthesis.
32. Thomas Jefferson tried to cultivate Venus Fly Trap plants.
33. Charles Darwin admired the plant saying that it is the most wonderful plant in the world.
34. It emits a fluorescent blue glow to attract insects and then eat them. It also produces nectar to attract insects.
35. The traps can even catch a frog!
36. It is the official state carnivorous plant of North Carolina. It was honored the official state carnivorous plant in 2005.
37. Scientists in South Korea and Maine created robotic Venus Fly Traps.
38. Venus Fly Trap can digest even human flesh! Strips of human skin were placed in its pods, and voila! The plant digested the skin with ease.
39. As of 2014, only 33,000 plants are present all over the world. IUCN lists the plant as vulnerable.
40. The extract of the plant is sold in the name of “Carnivora.” It is said to cure skin cancer, herpes, HIV, Crohn’s disease, etc.
Venus Fly Trap FAQ
What is special about the Venus Fly Trap?
It is a carnivorous/insectivorous plant. It is famous for its carnivorous diet. Its leaf is modified to form two lobes that close and trap the insect when an insect touches three hair-like projections called trichome hairs.
Can a Venus Fly Trap hurt a person?
No, it can’t harm you.
How big do Venus Fly Traps get?
It grows around 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Each trap measures around 1.5 inches.
Where is Venus Fly Trap found?
It is endemic to North Carolina and South Carolina.
Do Venus Fly Traps have a brain?
No, they don’t have brains.
Do Venus Fly Traps close at night?
No, their traps don’t close at night.
Can Venus Fly Traps survive without bugs?
They can happily survive for a month or two without eating any insects.
Can a Venus Fly Trap eat a hamburger?
It will die if anyone tries to feed it a hamburger.
Can you overfeed a Venus Fly Trap?
No, you can’t overfeed it. The more you feed, the stronger it gets.
What temperature do Venus Fly Traps live in?
The optimal temperature ranges from 70 – 95o F to 40o F. Humidity must be over 50%. It prefers rainwater or distilled water.