The Genus Dionaea - Fly Traps
A Plant with a Nervous System?
Charles Darwin when he was first introduced to the Venus Flytrap plant in the 19th century declared it as “one of the most wonderful in the world.” Scientists have marveled at the miraculous way the Venus Flytrap can close and capture prey in a fraction of a second. While plants do not have a nervous system, they do send signals. The way these plants were able to snap shut has remained a mystery…until now.
The carniv Dionaea is monotypic, meaning that the carnivorous Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is the only species. This small plant will catch and eat small insects and spiders when the hairs on the inside of its “trap” are triggered. The prey that the Venus Flytrap acquires helps the plant acquire additional nutrients, allowing it to survive in an otherwise nutrient limiting environment, like bogs.
Where can you see wild Venus Flytrap?
Oddly, the Venus Flytrap is the only species that works by snapping its modified teethed leaves around insects. Other carnivorous plants, like sundews, bladderworts, and pitcher plants, work slightly different. Yet, the Venus Flytrap has a very restricted range. It is only found natively within about a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, NC. It grows in the nitrogen-poor boggy soils up and down the coastline. Green Swamp and Carolina Beach Park are both great places to see the plant.