How to Contain a Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

In our online store, you can buy various varieties of the plant Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytrap). All of them are presented in the predator plants section.

Dioneа muscipula (Venus flytrap) is a perennial herbivorous insectivorous plant, the only representative of its kind, from the family Rosyankovye (Droseraceae). The scientific species name (muscipula) translated from Latin as “mousetrap” was probably obtained by this plant by mistake of a botanist who actually wanted to write muscicipula (a trap for flies). Dion, in Greek mythology, was the mother of Aphrodite, in the Roman version of Venus – the Roman goddess of love and plants. This species belongs to a small group of plants capable of rapid movements.

In nature, Venus flytrap grows in peat bog bogs on the Atlantic coast of the United States, in the states of North and South Carolina. A population of these plants is also known in Florida, but this state is not the desired homeland of these plants; the seeds of the Venus flytrap were introduced and sown here by one gardener in the 1930s.

At home, the population of plants of this species is rapidly declining due to human activities, in particular, the construction of golf courses and rest homes. The species is currently listed on CITES, Appendix II, meaning that it is endangered. However, the Venus flytrap is very common and popular in cultivation with gardeners around the world. Most of the plants sold today are grown thanks to a culture of plant cells and tissues.

Like most insectivorous plants that grow in nitrogen-poor soils, these plants are no exception, so they are forced to extract an additional source of nitrogen from insects through their capture.

The leaves of the Venus flytrap are collected in a rosette and grow from a short underground bulbous stem. Each plant has from 4 to 7 elongated leaves, at the end of which trap leaves are formed from 8 to 15 cm long. These special leaves consist of two folds and are capable of folding. Along the edges of each leaf, there is a series of long thin bristles that, when slammed, hold the prey inside and prevent it from escaping.

There are glands secreting nectar along the inner row of bristles to attract insects. In addition to the bristles along the edges of the sheet, on each of the two internal flat surfaces of the trap, there are three special hairs – triggers. If the insect attracted by the aroma touches two or all three of these hairs, the trap quickly closes in turn. At first, it is only slightly covered, and the insect has the ability to move within the trap. If a small insect comes across and manages to get out through the lattice of bristles, hair stimulation ceases, and the trap opens again after about a day. But if a larger insect (more than 3-4 mm) is caught in the trap, and hair stimulation continues, the trap closes more tightly and the digestion process begins. The glands on the inner surface of the leaf begin to secrete digestive enzymes, which dissolve the victim from within. The resulting nutrients are absorbed by the inner walls of the trap. As soon as the digestion process ends (usually it takes about 7-10 days), the trap opens again, leaving only an empty chitinous shell from the insect.

If during the movement along with the leaf the insect does not touch the trigger hairs or only one of the hairs touches, the trap will not work. This strategy is very important for the plant. It prevents false triggering of the trap, as a result of falling drops of rain, leaves or twigs on it.

Each trap is designed for only three digestion processes, after which its leaves turn black and die. And even if the trap cannot catch a single insect, it can close and reopen only about seven times. Therefore, when maintaining the house, one should not force the trap to work in vain, artificially stimulating its hairs.

The mechanism of leaf collapse is a very complex process of interaction between its elasticity, turgor, and growth, which has not yet been fully studied. With successive stimulation of the hairs, an electrical impulse is formed, which propagates along with the leaf and stimulates cells in the blades and in the midline of the leaf. As a result of further complex reactions in these cells, the trap flaps slam shut at lightning speed. In this case, the leaf of the trap changes its shape, from convex (curved outward) to concave (curved inward). All this happens in no time.

The flowers of the Venus flytrap are collected in inflorescences and are located on long stems, much higher than the traps, which is natural because insects pollinating flowers should not fall into leaf traps. White flowers, about 2 cm in size with five petals. Flowering occurs from May to July.

The fruit is an unevenly cracked box filled with about twenty shiny black and very small seeds, the size of a dot at the end of this sentence.

In addition to seeds, Venus flytrap breeds through its rhizome. Each plant produces no more than seven leaves. If the plant has more than seven leaves, then a new young plant has already separated from it.

The typical color of the Venus flytrap is green. Traps are also green, but their interior areas in good light may be reddish. Young plants in spring produce traps at the end of short petioles, which are collected in sockets and pressed to the ground. As summer approaches, petioles become longer and more vertical. In addition to the typical shape, breeders have bred many different varieties – some of them remain pressed to the ground all year round, others are slightly different in color and size. So, there are varieties with particularly saturated dark red inner areas of traps and even completely red plants. However, such plants are difficult to obtain in culture due to their high demand for bright lighting.

Healthy, well-developed plants are very hardy and can tolerate drought and temporary flooding without harm to themselves (of course, no more than a few days).

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