Venus Flytrap

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Venus Flytrap
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Venus Flytrap

Scientific classification
Species:D. muscipula

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

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The edges of a Venus Flytrap leaf are equipped with teeth-like spikes.

The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a carnivorous plant that catches its prey (insects and arachnids, mostly flies and spiders) by snapping its leaves closed, much like animals do with their mouths. The edges of the leaves are equipped with teeth-like spikes. Once the insect has been captured, the plant digests and absorbs it. The leaf then opens, and wind and rain remove the remains. Each leaf can digest a limited number of times, after which it withers and dies. The Venus Flytrap may be the source of legends about man-eating plants. The plant's name refers to Venus, the goddess of love and plant life. A common US name for the plant is tipitiwitchet.

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The inside of the trap has red glands that attract insects.

The plant grows in a rosette of 4-7 leaves. Each leaf reaches a maximum size of about 3 cm to 7 cm, depending on the time of year [1] ( Flytraps that appear to have more than 7 leaves are actually colonies, formed by tubers that have divided.

The tip of the leaf is divided into two hinged lobes that form a trap. There are many traps on a plant, each on their own individual leaf. The trap contains three hair-like cilia that act as triggers for the trap. The inside of the trap has red glands that attract insects. A trigger hair must be touched twice in rapid succession (to prevent natural things like raindrops from triggering it), whereupon the lobes will expand and shut the trap. This action is very fast, typically less than 100 milliseconds. If the hairs are still being triggered, the trap closes tighter and releases digestive enzymes that dissolve the insect. This takes about 10 days. However, if the trap closes and the hairs aren't being triggered, it will open after a few hours. It's very rare that a trap will catch even three insects in its lifetime.

The Venus flytrap is found in nitrogen-poor bogs in the southeastern United States, mainly within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina. This is why it has to gain nutrients from insects. Collecting wild flytraps is severely restricted by federal and state law due to its limited range.

The Venus flytrap is one of small group of plants that are capable of rapid movement, such as Mimosa and the Telegraph plant. (See also Rapid plant movement.) The geometry and mechanical aspects of the rapid motion are examined in research published in Nature in January 2005. Fluid drives a mechanical spring action, nevertheless the molecular processes behind the movement are still not understood.



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The flowers of The Venus Flytrap

Venus flytraps are popular as cultivated plants, especially in North Carolina. They can be grown on a windowsill if a few requirements are respected. Terrariums are an ideal growing environment, though there is a risk of excessive heat from direct sunlight.

The ideal soil is a mix of sand and sphagnum moss, or sphagnum alone. Soil pH should be in the range of 4.0 to 4.5.

They thrive with at least a few hours of direct sunlight daily. But hot sun combined with low humidity can spell death for a weak Venus flytrap fresh out of tissue culture. Insufficient light can lead to long, thin leaves that lack red coloring in the traps.

Venus flytraps must not be watered with tap water; accumulated salts cause most carnivorous plants — including Venus flytraps — to slowly die. Distilled water or clean rain water should be used instead. The soil should be kept moist constantly by placing the pot in a tray full of water. Ideally, growers should use a tray wide enough to let the water vapor created by evaporated tray water raise the plant's surrounding humidity. There is no danger of over-watering. Venus Flytraps have been known to live underwater for weeks at a time.

Some horticulturists have experimented with giving small amounts of fertilizer to Venus flytraps, usually applying diluted solutions of products formulated for epiphytes, using cotton swabs, to the plant's foliage. Beginners, however, and those without expendable plants, would be wise to eschew fertilizer in favor of insects, below.

Growers should resist the temptation to trigger the traps manually, whether by poking them or by feeding them, say, hamburger, which shouldn't be used because of its tendency to rot traps due to high fat content. Venus flytraps are entirely capable of catching their own food; thus, feeding them oneself isn't necessary. Nevertheless, traps are best fed manually with live insects no larger than 1/3 of the size of the trap. The plants do not require insects and can thrive without eating at all.

You can over-feed Venus flytraps. Blue-green algae growth near the plant is one indicator of over-feeding. In general, it is best to feed the plant at most once a month, and only one trap at a time.

Also, growers should consider avoiding allowing their Venus flytraps to flower, since flowering consumes much of the plant's energy, reducing growth.

Another important consideration is dormancy, an annual rest period undertaken by Venus flytraps. If one lives in an area with chilly, but not freezing, winters (similar to Venus flytraps' natural habitat in North Carolina), they can be placed outside in a cool area protected from frost. One must keep the soil slightly moist and ensure that the plant still receives a small amount of sunlight. Those who live in areas with extremely cold winters should place their Venus flytraps in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three months, starting in autumn.

Venus flytraps in popular culture

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Invenusable Flytrap, a villian on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Venus flytrap-like plants are very common as beasts in fictional works, usually in a much larger form capable of digesting a human. Most famous is Audrey II in the Little Shop of Horrors, a plant that needs to eat people to live. Cartoons frequently make use of such monstrous plants; examples include, but are certainly not limited to Inspector Gadget and Darkwing Duck. Video games such as Super Mario Bros. use similar creatures as usually immobile enemies. There is also a video game called Venus the Flytrap, in which a robotic fly tries to destroy other robotic insects.

A one-time villain on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the Invenusable Flytrap, a humanoid plant creature. There was also a main character by this name on the television sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati.


  • The Carnivorous Plant FAQ: Venus Flytraps ( Retrieved Jun. 13, 2005.
  • Alvarez-Vasquez, F., Sims, K. J., Cowart, L. A., Okamato, Y., Volt, E. O. & Hannun, Y. A. (2005). How the Venus Flytrap snaps. Nature 433:421-425.

External links

de:Venusfliegenfalle es:Dionea atrapamoscas eo:Muŝkaptilo de Venuso fr:Dionée attrape-mouche nl:Venusvliegenvanger


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