Venus' flytrap is known botanically as Dionaea muscipula. The plant, which grows in poor soil in boggy parts of coastal North Carolina and South Carolina, is best known for its carnivorous nature: It relies on captured insects for sustenance.
The wide, flat leaves of the flytrap contain sensitive hairs that trigger the shutting mechanism when insects land on the leaves. The trap shuts partially at first, to allow the smallest insects to escape. It then closes completely over larger prey.
Digestion, aided by enzymes secreted by the plant, can take five to 12 days. Only the soft parts of insects are digested. The harder exoskeleton is blown away or washed away when the leaves reopen at the end of the digestive process.
Venus' flytraps have evolved to consume live food. Feeding dead insects to a flytrap raised indoors will not result in the closing of the leaves. To activate the leaf-closing mechanism, gently agitate the dead insect on the leaf. This should trigger a response.
- Botanical Society of America: The Mysterious Venus Flytrap
- "Hortus Third"; Liberty Hyde Bailey, Zoe Esther Bailey, et al.; 1976
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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