Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)



Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a species of carnivorous plant in genus Dionaea of the family Droseraceae, and is native to the swamp lands and bogs of North and South Carolina in the United States. It has since been transplanted and grown in many locations all over the world. The plant's common name is referring to the Roman goddess of love, Venus, while the species name muscipula means 'mousetrap' in Latin. Venus flytrap is a very hardy perennial plant that grows and blooms over the spring and summer and dies back every winter, growing back in the spring from the stored energy in the rhizome or root stock. It can withstand light freezes and frost. However prolong period of freezes can kill the plant.

Venus flytrap is a small plant with a rosette of 4-7 leaves, grown from a short subterranean stem. Each stem can grow to 3-10 cm tall. Longer leaves with robust traps are normally formed after flowering. Plants with more than 7 leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.

Venus flytrap preys on insects with its uniquely shaped terminal portion of its leaves. The leaf blade can be divided into two primary regions, a flat, heart-shaped petiole that is grown out of the ground and carrying out photosynthesis, and a pair of terminal lobes. They are hinged together at a midrib, and forming the trap which is the true leaf. An indication of good health in most varieties of the Venus flytrap is the upper surface of the lobes contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage, a thick and gluey substance. Each trap has 2-5 trigger hairs on each lobe with three trigger hairs being normal. The edge of the trap is lined with finger-like cilia or teeth that lace together when the trap shuts.

The sweet-scented leaves attract insects. When an insect or spider crawls along the trap and triggers hairs, it causes the jaw-like leaves to snap shut. A prey has to come in contact with two trigger hairs in succession within 20 seconds of each other or one hair touched twice in rapid succession, for the trap to close. This is to ensure that the trap does not waste energy in trapping a fallen leaf or get activated by a raindrop. In full sunlight, the leaves take about 0.1 second to snap shut and takes a longer reaction time in cloudy or low temperatures. The speed of closing is varied and depends on the amount of humidity, light, general growing conditions and size of prey. The trapped insects is then slowly dissolved by acids and digested by the plant in about 10 days. If the prey is too small and manage to escape, the leaves will re-open in within 12 hours. If the prey moves around in the trap, the trap will tighten and digestion begins more quickly. The leaves will dies after the trap catches insects 3-4 times, but it is a rare occurrence for a trap to catch and digest more than 3 preys in its lifetime. Venus flytrap's prey is limited to beetles, spiders and arthropods, with 33% ants, 30% spiders, 10% grasshoppers, 10% beetles and less than 5% is flying insects.

Venus flytrap requires light, water and nutrient poor soil to flourish. During active growing season, the plant needs at least 12 hours of light with a minimum of 4 hours of direct bright sunlight. The more direct light the plant receives, the healthier it will be. When watering Venus flytrap, use pure water, either rain water, distilled or any other water that has a low concentration of dissolved solids. Tap water is not recommended as the dissolved solids in the water, such as sodium, alkaline salts, calcium, chlorine, magnesium and sulfur are detrimental to the well-being of Venus flytrap. The nutrient poor soil is recommended as the regular potting soil will burn the roots and kill the plant. The easiest and safe soil to use is simply pure peat moss or sphagnum moss. Trim dead leaves to avoid disease.

Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dionaea_muscipula_002.JPG
authorshipH. Zell
photo licensing

Close-up view on the trigger hairs of Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)Close-up view on the trigger hairs of Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:VFT_ne1.JPG
authorshipNoah Elhardt
photo licensing

Digested fly in a Venus FlytrapDigested fly in a Venus Flytrap
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Digested_fly.JPG
authorshipStefano Zucchinali
photo licensing

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