General Botany

EFB 226

 

Plant of the Day

September 8, 2006

 

 

Common Name: Venus Flytrap

 

Scientific Name: Dionaea muscipula

 

Botany:

 

Venus' Flytraps get their food through photosynthesis like other plants.

 

Supplement nutrients which are in low supply by trapping and digesting insects.

 

The Venus' Flytrap reproduces both sexually and asexually. It produces a flower which is held on a tall stock keeping the pollinators away from the leaves. It also reproduces via a rhizome.

 

The leaf blades are modified into the traps and the leaf petioles are broad and flat, a modification for photosynthesis, taking on the characteristics of a typical leaf blade.

 

Trapping:

The leaves secrete a sweet nectar that draws in insects searching for food.

The trigger hairs on the leaves are touched in quick succession.

The leaves snap shut in less than a second.

An air-tight seal is formed to hold digestive fluids inside and bacteria and mold out.

Digestion can take 5 to 12 days.

The leaves reopen only about 10 to 12 closures (partial or complete), before the leaf loses its ability to capture insects.

 

Habitat:

 

Found in Coastal North and South Carolina, the plants are limited to living in humid, wet and sunny bogs and wetland areas. Most plants cannot survive in this nutrient poor environment, but such environments are commonly populated by insectivorous plants, such as Venus flytraps.

 

Conservation:

 

The flytrap has been endangered in the wild due to:

over-collection by Flytrap enthusiasts

draining and destruction of the natural wetlands where they grow

pollution

Today they are protected in the wild and must be grown in greenhouses and cultivated through tissue culture.

 

 

Venus Flytrap with variously aged leaves.

 

Closed trap with highly visible cilia, making the distinctly interlocking appearance of a jaw full of long teeth. The cilia hold the trapped insect in while the trap closes fully.

 

An open trap showing the bright red surface an 6 trigger hairs indicated by the arrows. (Click on the image to enlarge).

 

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