Venus flytrap stands alone -- there's only one species of Venus flytrap, according to the Botanical Society of America . Growers produce Venus flytrap hybrids, and in the media, the hybrids are sometimes referred to as species of Venus flytrap. Both the "New York Times" and Ohio's "Columbus Dispatch" refer to Dionaea "B52" as the largest species of Venus flytrap.
In their native North Carolina and South Carolina habitat, Venus flytraps grow in groups in sand, a nutrient-poor growing medium, right above the water table. The leaves on an average-sized Venus flytrap measure 1 inch or less across, with traps of a similar size. The Dionaea B52s traps reach 2 1/4 inches across. Cincinnati, Ohio's Franklin Park Conservatory's Savage Garden exhibit included a B52, complete with feeding demonstrations. The apricot-sized traps snap shut on living prey in seconds. Like the original Venus flytrap, the extra-large Dionaea B52 requires live insects for supplemental nutrients.
Dionaea B52 is a cultivar of Venus flytrap germinated by Henning von Schmeling. It's characterized by vigorous growth and bright crimson traps. Henning von Schmeling registered the cultivar with the International Carnivorous Plant Society in 2006, the International Cutivar Registration Authority for cultivated carnivorous plants.
A Larger Carnivorous Plant
For a carnivorous plant that comes closer to the Hollywood fantasy of a man-eating plant, the Nepenthes attenboroughii, sometimes eats rats. This unusual pitcher plant, discovered in the jungles of southeast Asia in 2009, bears the name of natural history presenter Sir David Attenborough. It grows to a diameter of 30 cm around its pit trap, and attracts prey with a tantalizing scent. Insects or rodents fall into the water-filled pit and the digestive liquids eat the rodent, allowing the plant to derive nutrients from its body. Not even the world's largest Venus flytrap can eat a rodent.
When you grow Venus flytraps indoors at home, they do well in a terrarium. Terrarium-grown Venus flytraps require insect feedings. Because these rare plants adapted to nutrient-poor bog conditions, fertilizer doesn't agree with them. Unless you have bright natural light, you'll need to provide a grow lamp for your Venus flytrap. For successful home growing, mimicking the plant's native conditions provides the most suitable environment. Combining sphagnum peat and sand for a growing medium supports the rhizome, the bulb-shaped structures at the Venus flytrap's base and gives it a familiar, acidic soil.
- Botanical Society of America: Dionaea Muscipula --The Venus Flytrap
- "New York Times"; Take Five: Stilt Walking and Carnivorous Plants; Cloe Veltman; May 2010
- "Columbus Dispatch" ; Little Hothouse of Horrors; Joe Blundo, July 2010
- International Carnivorous Plant Society: Registered Cultivar Names
- CNN; Botanists Discover New Rat-Eating Plant; August 2009
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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