THE VENUS FLYTRAP
Native of the United States to the wetlands of North and South Carolina, the Dionaea Muscipula (aka Venus Flytrap) first written description was made in 1759. On 2 April 1759, the North Carolina colonial governor, Arthur Dobbs, penned the first written description of the plant in a letter to English botanist Peter Collinson. In the letter he wrote: “We have a kind of Catch Fly Sensitive which closes upon anything that touches it. It grows in Latitude 34 but not in 35. I will try to save the seed here.”Dobbs in a letter to Collinson “To this surprising plant I have given the name of Fly trap Sensitive”. This was the first detailed recorded notice of the plant by Europeans. The description was before John Ellis’ letter to The London Magazine on 1 September 1768, and his letter to Carl Linnaeus on 23 September 1768, in which he described the plant and proposed its English name Venus’s Flytrap and scientific name Dionaea muscipula.
The plant’s common name refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The genus name, Dionaea (“daughter of Dione”), refers to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, while the species name, muscipula, is Latin for both “mousetrap” and “flytrap”. The Latin word muscipula (“mousetrap”) is derived from mus (“mouse”) and decipula (“trap”), while the homonym word muscipula (“flytrap”) is derived from musca (“fly”) and decipula (“trap”).
Venus flytraps description
The plant is made from bottom to top: Rhizome (white underground bulb-like part of the plant), the leaf base (photosynthesis-capable) connecting the petiole to the rhizome, the petiole (little post connecting the leaf base to the lamina), the lamina (the part that looks like a wolf-trap also called lobes or leaf blade). The leaf-base is often confused with the leaf petiole! The lamina is made of a pair of terminal lobes, each lobe having in its inner part three trigger hairs (also known as sensitive hairs). The inside surface of the lamina ( forming the trap) contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage. VFT entirely green have very little to none anthocyanin making (it seems) the plant a slower grower compare to its counterparts. All green VFT can naturally be found in the wild.
The Venus Flytrap catches its prey, insects and arachnids by trapping them using a “wolf trap” structure formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves called lamina, which is triggered by tiny hairs (called “trigger hairs” or “sensitive hairs”) on their inner surfaces. The edges of the lamina are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions called cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. The trigger 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.