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Botanical Name : Dionaea muscipula
Common Names: Venus’s flytrap or Venus’ flytrap. Historically, the plant was also known by the slang term “tipitiwitchet” or “tippity twitchet”, possibly an oblique reference to the plant’s resemblance to human female genitalia.
Habitat : Dionaea muscipula is native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina
Dionaea muscipula is a carnivorous plant. It is a small plant whose structure can be described as a rosette of four to seven leaves, which arise from a short subterranean stem that is actually a bulb-like object. 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 that have more than 7 leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.
Leaves will reach up to 5 inches (13 cm) long with flat, winged petioles. The blades are reniform (kidney-shaped), 2 lobed with the lobes hinged and fringed with stiff cilia. The upper surface has 3 sensitive hairs that when stimulated by insects cause the lobes to close together quickly (much this closing happens within ~1/30 of a second). Plants are easy to grow and are great plants for terraria. They are hardy in USDA zone 8, but growing them in nature may be a challenge because of their need for low nutients and low pH — difficult unless you intend to simulate their natural bog environment.
Blooming Time: The small white flower is ¾ of inch (2 cm) across.
The leaf blade is divided into two regions: a flat, heart-shaped photosynthesis-capable petiole, and a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib, forming the trap which is the true leaf. The upper surface of these lobes contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage. The lobes exhibit rapid plant movements, snapping shut when stimulated by prey. The trapping mechanism is tripped when prey contacts one of the three hair-like trichomes that are found on the upper surface of each of the lobes. The mechanism is so highly specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey stimuli, such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession within 20 seconds of each other or one hair touched twice in rapid succession, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut, typically in about one-tenth of a second. The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. These protrusions, and the trigger hairs (also known as sensitive hairs) are likely homologous with the tentacles found in this plant’s close relatives, the sundews. Scientists have concluded that the snap trap evolved from a fly-paper trap similar to that of Drosera.
The holes in the meshwork allow small prey to escape, presumably because the benefit that would be obtained from them would be less than the cost of digesting them. If the prey is too small and escapes, the trap will usually reopen within 12 hours. If the prey moves around in the trap, it tightens and digestion begins more quickly.
Speed of closing can vary depending on the amount of humidity, light, size of prey, and general growing conditions. The speed with which traps close can be used as an indicator of a plant’s general health. Venus flytraps are not as humidity-dependent as are some other carnivorous plants, such as Nepenthes, Cephalotus, most Heliamphora, and some Drosera.
The Venus flytrap exhibits variations in petiole shape and length and whether the leaf lies flat on the ground or extends up at an angle of about 40–60 degrees. The four major forms are: ‘typica’, the most common, with broad decumbent petioles; ‘erecta’, with leaves at a 45-degree angle; ‘linearis’, with narrow petioles and leaves at 45 degrees; and ‘filiformis’, with extremely narrow or linear petioles. Except for ‘filiformis’, all of these can be stages in leaf production of any plant depending on season (decumbent in summer versus short versus semi-erect in spring), length of photoperiod (long petioles in spring versus short in summer), and intensity of light (wide petioles in low light intensity versus narrow in brighter light).
When grown from seed, plants take around four to five years to reach maturity and will live for 20 to 30 years if cultivated in the right conditions.
Venus flytraps are popular as cultivated plants, but have a reputation for being difficult to grow. Successfully growing these specialized plants requires recreating a close approximation to the plant’s natural habitat.
Healthy Venus flytraps will produce scapes of white flowers in spring; however, many growers remove the flowering stems early (2–3 inches), as flowering consumes some of the plant’s energy and thereby reduces the rate of trap production. If healthy plants are allowed to flower, successful pollination will result in seeds.
Plants can be propagated by seed, although seedlings take several years to mature. More commonly, they are propagated by clonal division in spring or summer.
Venus flytraps are by far the most commonly recognized and cultivated carnivorous plant, and they are frequently sold as houseplants. Various cultivars (cultivated varieties) have come into the market through tissue culture of selected genetic mutations, and these plants are raised in large quantities for commercial markets.
In alternative medicine
Venus flytrap extract is available on the market as an herbal remedy, sometimes as the prime ingredient of a patent medicine named “Carnivora”. According to the American Cancer Society, these products are promoted in alternative medicine as a treatment for a variety of human ailments including HIV, Crohn’s disease and skin cancer, but “available scientific evidence does not support the health claims made for Venus flytrap extract”
Immunodeficiency diseases. Adult malignant tumors. Ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease. Neurodermitis. Multiple sclerosis. Primary chronic polyarthritis.
Dr. Keller claims that partial to total remissions have been achieved in glioblastomas, hypernephroma with lung metastases (not bones), pancreas carcinoma, viral induced tumors in the ear, nose and throat, adenocarcinomas of the lung and colon. In CML and CLL, remission time is prolonged together with the use of chemotherapy. He says in all the other malignancies Venus’ Fly Trap extract decreases the suppresser cells, increases the helper and natural killer cells, and therefore improves the patient’s general condition.
Other Uses: It is an ornamental plant. It can be grown as a fly trap or cosquito trap.
Venus flytrap is commonly grown as a curiosity and is a source of wonder for children and adults alike. Indeed, it is likely that Venus flytrap has been the source of inspiration for many a horror film involving man-eating plants – a somewhat unique ‘use’ within the plant kingdom! .
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Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
- [tt] NS 3058: Venus flytrap can count prey’s steps to dissolve them alive (stirling-westrup-tt.blogspot.com)
- The Venus Flytrap Can Count Past 2 (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- “Nature / Environment / Critters” February 5th, 2016 (jeff-goodall.com)
- Trap-Jaw Ants Box To Define Colony Rank, Video Shows (natureworldnews.com)
- Poole explorer to share amazing wildlife adventures (bournemouthecho.co.uk)
- Venus Flytraps ‘Count’ to 5 Before Dissolving Prey (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Venus flytraps have got the number of their prey (independent.ie)
- 13 unique North Carolina experiences (matadornetwork.com)
- Just For The Tech Of It: Drone-snatching eagles and carnivorous plants that count (digitaltrends.com)
- MI weekly selection #165 (mappingignorance.org)