Venus Fly Trap Classification


Venus flytraps are small, carnivorous plants native to boggy regions in North and South Carolina, although overcollecting of the plants has caused them to become a threatened species. Venus flytraps are popular and easy-to-care-for houseplants. The plant was given its name because when an insect lands on one of the plant's leaves and touches a small trigger hair, the plant clamps shut and secretes juices that digest the insect. Because Venus flytraps tend to live in poor soil, insects provide them with supplemental nutrition. Like all plants, a Venus flaytrap's classification begins with the Plant Kingdom.

Plant Kingdom

The Plant Kingdom, also termed Plantae, is the broadest classification under which the Venus flytrap fits. Plants are the next-to-largest grouping of living entities on Earth, second only to arthropods, which include insects, spiders and marine species, such as crabs. The Plant Kingdom is also highly diverse, including a range of species from minute mosses to towering redwood trees. What all plants have in common is their ability to make food from sunlight using a green substance, called chlorophyll, found in their leaves. Because the green leaves of Venus flytraps contain chlorophyll and Venus flytraps receive their primary nutrition from the sun, then Venus flytraps fit into the Plant Kingdom.

Phylum Tracheophyta

Within the Plant Kingdom, plants are further divided into phyla according to broad distinctions. Venus flytraps belong to the phylum Tracheophyta, or vascular plants. Each plant in this phylum possesses a vascular transport system to move water and nutrients throughout the plant.

Class Magnoliopsida

Vascular plants are further classified into classes, and the Venus flytrap belongs to the largest of those classes, Magnoliopsida, also known as angiosperms. Plants in this class produce flowers at some point in their life cycle. Venus flytraps produce flowers on tall stalks, and the flowers develop tiny seeds.

Order Caryophyllales

The Order Caryophyllales is the next subdivision to which Venus flytraps belong. Caryophyllales contains 29 families of flowering plants, making it a large and diverse order. In addition to Venus flytraps, the order includes plants such as carnations, cacti and spinach. Plants are classified into an order with regard to shared structural and molecular characteristics, as well as similar development of plant embryos within seed. Members of Caryophyllales have in common adaptations that allow them to survive in conditions not generally conducive to plant life. For example, Venus flytraps developed the ability to capture and take nutrients from insect prey, allowing them to thrive in nutrient-poor soil.

Family Droseraceae

Within the order Caryophyllales, Venus flytraps belong next to the Droseraceae family, also known as the sundew family after the most common types of plants found in the family. Plants in the Droseraceae are all herbs, meaning that their above-ground stems stay soft and do not become woody. Members of the sundew family trap and consume insects using sensitive trigger hairs, although different plants within the family use different mechanisms, causing them to be further divided into genera.

Genus Dionaea Muscipula

Venus flytraps belong to the genus Dionaea, which contains a single species, making the plant's scientific name Dionaea muscipula. Venus flytraps are alone in their genus because the mechanism by which they trap insects differs considerably from the methods used by other carnivorous plants, which tend to lure insects with a sweet scent onto a sticky trap. In comparison, Venus flytraps actually close upon insect prey. Although only a single species of Venus flytrap exists, multiple forms exist within the species, differing primarily in growth rate.

Keywords: Venus flytrap classification, Venus flytrap taxonomy, carnivorous plant classfication, carnivorous plant taxonomy

About this Author

First published in 2000, Dawn Walls-Thumma has served as an editor for Bartleby and Antithesis Common literary magazines. Her work has been published academically and in creative journals. Walls-Thumma writes about education, gardening, and sustainable living. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from University of Maryland, and is a graduate student in education at American Public University.