Carnivorous Plants Can Be Vicious

The Venus flytrap (also referred to as Venus’s flytrap or Venus’ flytrap), Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina. It catches its prey—chiefly insects and arachnids—with a trapping structure formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves, which is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap prepares to close, snapping shut only if another contact occurs within approximately twenty seconds of the first strike. The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against wasting energy by trapping objects with no nutritional value, and the plant will only begin digestion after five more stimuli to ensure it has caught a live bug worthy of consumption. 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. The plants will live for 20 to 30 years if cultivated in the right conditions.