Venus Fly Trap Information

Overview

According to the Botanical Society of America, the Venus flytrap is one of 600 meat-eating plants worldwide. Venus flytraps are a very specific plant in regards to how it lives and where it lives naturally. Because of its extraordinary nature, the Venus flytrap has been sought after by treasure hunters. Wild varieties of this plant are now rare, causing it to be placed under international protection.

Identification

The Dionaea muscipula is more commonly known as the Venus flytrap. The plant is the most recognized variety of meat-eating plants. According to information from "The Private Life of Plants" the Venus flytrap has a rosette color. The leaves form a distinct, two-sided trap ringed with sharp, tooth-like edges. The outside of the trap is green with the interior red. The shade of colors vary with the age of the trap. Lobes of the plant generally have between 14 to 20 teeth radiating from the leaves. The stalk itself has no leaves and reaches heights of 1 foot. The leaves reach lengths of 4 1/2 inches, while the trap is up to 1 1/2 inches long. From mid-May to June, small white flowers with faint green veins appear on the plant, yielding small, flat, shiny black seeds. This perennial plant is thought to disperse seeds via water or birds.

Habitat

The Venus flytrap is a native plant of North America; specifically to the eastern border area of North and South Carolina and a small group of plants in northern Florida. The plant lives in pine savannas where peaty, sandy soil is found under constant moisture.

Biology

The Venus flytrap was named after the fact that it catches and digests insects. According to D. Attenborough in his book "The Private Life of Plants," the Venus flytrap attracts insects with the bright pigmentation of the trap and a nectar secretion from glands below the teeth in the trap. Attenborough states that once an insect brushes against two of the hairs within the lobe within a short time span, the trap is sprung and the leaves partially close around the insect. With the teeth interlocked, larger insects cannot escape. Schnell suggests that the slow process of completely closing the trap is caused by chemical signals and movement from the trapped insect. When the trap is fully closed, it forms an airtight seal. Once the trap seals, glands within the walls release digestive juices that dissolve the prey over 7 to 10 days. Each trap is used only three or four times; afterwards photosynthesis is the only means the leaves use to gain nourishment.

Conservation

The Dionaea musciplua is classified as an endangered plant by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and has been on their Red List since 1978. The plant is also on Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These classifications mean that the Venus flytrap cannot be harvested, transported, exported or affected in any way that would affect its natural growth and habitat. The reason for the listing is the over-harvesting of the plant as a curiosity because of its biology. Any Venus flytraps sold commercially today are grown in greenhouses and not taken from the wild.

Growing

Dionaea muscipula can be grown in captivity, if certain conditions are maintained. Venus flytraps need a minimum of 4 hours direct sunlight a day. The plant's pigment will fade when not receiving adequate light. The Botanical Society of America recommends using a mix of peat moss and perlite at a 50/50 ratio in a 6-inch pot for a growing medium. Venus flytraps go into hibernation during winter months; therefore they stop growing and feeding. Insects are the recommended food source for a plant. Feeding the plant once a week during the growing season is enough, according to the BSA. Overly large insects, raw meat or too much feeding will cause the trap to turn black and rot.

Keywords: Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, rare plants, meat eating plant

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.