Genus Dionaea

The Venus Fly Trap is part of a monotypic genus. This means that there is only one species in the genus Dionaea and that species is named muscipula.There but however hundreds of cultivars (variations) that have been created by selective breeding. They are by far the most commonly recognized and cultivated carnivorous plant and they are frequently sold as houseplants. Examples of cultivars include Alien, B52, Jaws and Green Dragon.

RANGE

Venus flytraps are native to North America and the only place that they grow wild is on the eastern coast of North and South Carolina (USA) across a 145 km range. They have been collected nearly to extinction and are now considered endangered in North Carolina. They grow in subtropical wetlands, swamps, bogs, marshes and low-lying flatlands where the soil is boggy and nutrient deficient. They like hot, humid conditions with lots of sun.

HOW DO THEY GROW?

The Venus flytrap is a perennial herbs. It is a small plant whose structure can be described as a rosette of four to seven leaves which arise from a short subterranean (underground) rhizome (stem). Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to ten centimeters depending on the time of year. Longer leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering. Flytraps develop flowers in the spring and insects assist in pollinating the seeds in the wild. They can also be propagated by leaf pulling, tissue culture or in a laboratory. When grown from seed, plants take around four to five years to reach maturity and with the correct care can live almost indefinitely. While they do not grow tall, they will spread out in diameter and can have more than twenty large traps.

HUNTING

Flytraps catch prey to supplement their diet including flies, arachnids and even an occasional frog. They have a very high protein to nitrogen conversion rate resulting in fast growth after eating a meal. The leaves of the Venus flytrap have evolved into active spring traps that use a combination of bright pigment, sweet smells and sugary nectar to attract their prey. Each trap has six trigger hairs, three on each lobe. It takes only two stimulations of one hair to trigger the trap causing it to quickly close. An insect caught inside the partially closed trap will thrash about in an attempt to escape. This serves as the signal for the trap to close entirely. The speed with which the trap closes can vary depending on the amount of humidity, light, size of prey and general growing conditions and can also serve as an indicator of a plant’s general health.  Glands located in the leaves release enzymes that start digesting the prey and the nutrients are then absorbed by the leaves leaving behind a dry, powdery husk. Flytraps use a lot of energy when capturing their prey and each trap is good for only about four to six catches. After that the trap turns brown and falls off. It can take up to ten days for a Venus flytrap to completely digest a meal and reopen its trap. It might be fun to trigger the traps but it is not much fun for your plant.