In The Beginning
Adapt To Trap
What's For Dinner
This Is The Life
It's A Venus Fly Trap
Fun Facts
What Does It Mean
Thanks For The Help
The Creator

Adapt To Trap
In a way, Venus Fly Traps are smarter than humans.  When some humans hunt for food they lay out a trap, go retrieve the dead animal, cook it, and consume it.  A lot of energy goes into their meal.  The Venus Fly Trap on the other hand, just modifies part of itself into the trap.  In addition, it decides whether or not the prey is too small to trap, which allows it to save additional energy.  Now how smart do you feel?

Venus Fly Traps displaying the chitinous remains of its prey
Photo - Carnivorous Plant Dionaea by Makoto Honda

Modified Leaves

The Dionaea muscipula is famous for its unique ability to trap its prey.  The active steel-type trap develops from the leaves of the plant.  Like most plants, the leaf consists of the petiole and the blade.  In the Dionaea muscipula's case, the blade is modified into the trap while the petiole supports the trap and stores food.   In addition, 15-20 marginal spines are located at the ends of the blades.  These spines are arranged so that they interlock with closure.  (To get a better idea of this action, place your two wrists together.  Now bring your palms together and interlock your fingers.  This action mimics the closing of the trap). The traps are also arranged in a rosette around the growing point.  The rosette arrangement allows new traps to form in the center while receiving protection from outsiders by the older traps. ( The picture below shows the larger adult traps surrounding the newly formed traps).

The larger adult traps are surrounding the newly formed trapsEach trap has two lobes that are connected by the midrib.  On each lobe, there are three trigger hairs shaped in a triangular pattern with the base facing the marginal spines.  Trigger hairs are colorless bristles that are roughly 1/5 the width of the lobe in length.  When these trigger hairs are touched, the trap receives the signal to close, capturing its prey.  

Photo - Carnivorous Plant Dionaea by Makoto Honda

The Venus Fly Trap is extremely focused on using the least amount of energy possible for optimal results.  Therefore, the trap runs by a "two-touch" rule.  In order for the trap to close, a single hair must be touched twice or two separate hairs in succession.  To eliminate closure on false alarms, such as raindrops or twigs, the two touches must occur within 1-20 seconds of each other.  This helps to ensure the plant that it will receive food in return for its energy expenditure.  In addition to the trigger hairs, other parts of the trap are also sensitive.  The abaxial side of the trap is covered with stellate trichomes that alert the adaxial trigger mechanism to close the trap.  This takes hundreds of touches to make the trap activate, so it is less common.  Also, the inside of the triangle formed by the trigger hairs and the portion by the midrib are also sensitive, but not as efficient as the trigger hairs (shown below).


To Every Season, Turn Turn Turn ...

The Venus Fly Trap has seasonal traps.  In a springtime, the traps are green with broad petioles that possess wings.  The red coloration is often times absent or refined to only the adaxial side of the trap.  The spring traps last until flowers form in the early summer.  Next, the summer trapsVenus Fly Trap with three trigger hairs on each lobe are narrow and wingless, unlike the spring traps.  They also grow vertically and turn a deep maroon color in the intense sun.  This coloration acts as an attractive feature for the future items on its lunch menu.  For fall, there is no distinctive trap variation.  Lastly, the winter traps are the smallest in length and about average in width.  They are found lying prostrate and are prone to frost bite, which eventually leads to death.



Photo - Carnivorous Plant Dionaea by Makoto Honda


Flowering takes place between mid-May and the first two weeks of June.  The Venus Fly Trap vertically extends a tall scape from its growing point.  The terminal buds open first, then the flowers gradually open toward the base of the scape.  Each plant forms between 1-15 flowers.  Each flower is composed of 5 green sepals, 5 white petals, 15 stamens, and 1 compound pistil.


Venus Fly Trap's flower buds
Photo - Carnivorous Plant Dionaea by Makoto Honda

Venus Fly Trap's flowers

Photo - Carnivorous Plant Dionaea by Makoto Honda

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