The Venus Flytrap
With their fanged, gaping mouths, and their remarkable feeding action, Venus flytraps are incredibly unique and fascinating.
Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) are native to a very small region of coastal bogs in North and South Carolina. The permanently-wet and low-nutrient soils of these bogs make it very difficult for plants to survive, so these genius plants have developed a method for capturing nutrients in the form of live insects.
The first written description of Venus flytraps was made in 1759 by a North Carolina governor named Arthur Dobbs. While he did point out that the plants were capable of capturing flies, the first time these plants were referred to as "Venus flytraps" was in a letter penned by John Ellis in 1786.
Venus flytraps produce small rosettes of dark green or red leaves. At the end of each leaf is a "mouth" capable of snapping shut on any bugs (or fingers) that touch the inside surface.
There is only 1 species of Venus flytrap. However, individual flytraps might have different characteristics like bigger traps, redder coloration, longer teeth, etc. These individuals can be registered as "cultivars" (cultivated-varieties,) replicated, and sold using the special cultivar name.
The leaves of Venus Flytraps have short hairs called trigger hairs. When anything touches these hairs enough to bend them, the two lobes of the leaves snap shut trapping whatever is inside. The trap constricts tightly around the insect and secretes digestive juices. At the end of the digestive process, the trap reabsorbs the digestive fluid and then reopens.
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Venus flytraps have a reputation for being difficult plants to grow at home. This is partly because they have been incorrectly marketed as houseplants for many decades.
Habitat destruction and illegal poaching have reduced the wild population of Venus flytraps by over 90% since 1979.
The Venus Flytrap is one of the most fun plants to feed!
According to Popular Science, robotic plants and animals seem to be taking a particular interest with scientists in today's growing society. Technicians in the states and in South Korea have built robot replicas of the Venus Flytrap, which can catch and digest its meals for fuel!