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Urban, M - Venus Flytrap

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years ago

 

 

The Venus Flytrap

Dionaea muscipula

By: Meagan Urban

 

            The Venus Flytrap is a very interesting and unique plant.  I have always been fond of them ever since learning about them in the fourth grade.  The fact that it has adapted to take nutrients from insects because its soil is not that great is fascinating to me.

            The botanical name for the Venus Flytrap is Dionaea muscipula. Its name originates from Greek and Latin, with Dionaea stemming from the Greek goddess Dione (the mother of Aphrodite) and Latin’s muscipula which means ‘mousetrap’ (Booman Floral

2003).

            This plant can only be found in a small area in North Carolina and South Carolina.  It lives in a very boggy area where the soil is poor and lacks the gases and nutrients that are found in other soils (Botanical Society of America).  The soil would be considered sandy.   These plants usually grow around the edges of swamps or in open, wet savannas (Booman Floral 2003).  Out of World Wildlife’s fourteen major habitat types, Dionaea muscipula would fit into the ‘Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas and Shrublands.’ 

            The Venus Flytraps is a perennial plant, which means that its life cycle is completed in more than one year (Gurevitch et al. 2006).  It takes approximately five years for this plant to reach full maturity and it can keep on living for twenty to thirty years. This is a very rare plant. Though the Dionaea muscipula was once plentiful, it is now endangered.  This is due to habitat destruction such as building things in the area or the draining of the wetland for lumber (Booman Floral 2003). This plant is not invasive. 

            Venus Flytraps are popular with people because they are so interesting.  They are found in many households.  You can buy them at almost any local greenhouse for between five to twenty-five dollars.  Something that is both humans and Venus Flytraps are that they get nutrients from another source. 

            Most plants are content getting nutrients and gases from the air and soil.  But Venus Flytraps actually capture insects and digest them with enzymes of pH optima’s of 5.0 (Scala et al. 1969).  The Dionaea muscipula opens its trap wide so that insects can land on it.  The insects are attracted to the nectar that is on it’s surface.  There are a few trigger hairs that are on this surface and when they are brushed two or three times the hairs send a message for the trap to close.  It closes slowly so that if the insect is small, it is not wasting its time on digesting it because it will not receive enough nutrients.  The long cilia at the ends interlock with each other and seal the insect in.  From there, the plant is filled with fluid and enzymes to break down the prey.  This process takes a few days.  When it is finished with the insect, it opens up and the skeleton is taken away by the wind or rain.  These ‘traps’ only catch three or four insects and then they die and fall off.  If the trap is triggered and it did not catch anything, then it opens up as soon as a day later. (Booman Floral 2003).                                        

 

   

 

                       1. Leaves                            2. Map of Venus Flytrap location                  3. A victim of the Dionaea muscipula   

 

1. (Answers Corporation 2008)

2. (Wikimedia 2008)

3.  (Newscloud 2006)                                                                                                                                                                             

 

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Works Cited

 

Answers Corporation. c2008. Venus Flytrap. [Internet].  [cited 2008 Mar 6]. Available from: content.answers.com/.../7/71/240px-VFT_ne1.JPG 

Botanical Society of America. [cited 2008 Feb 17]. The Mysterious Venus’ Flytrap. Available from: http://www.botany.org/bsa/misc/carn.html  

Gurevitch J, Schneider S, Fox G. 2006. The Ecology of Plants Second Edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer. 526 p.

Newscloud. c2006. Idealog. [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: www.newscloud.com/image_files/story_17830.jpg

Scala J, Iott K, Schwab W, Semersky FE. Digestive Secretion of Dionaea muscipula. Plant Physiology. 1969; 44: 367-371.

Venus Flytrap. c2003. [cited 2008 Feb 17]. Available from: http://boomanfloral.com/info_venusfltyrap.htm   

Wikimedia. c2008. The Venus Flytrap. [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 5]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_Flytrap 

 

 

The Habitat of Dionaea muscipula

 

The Dionaea muscipula habitat is very diverse yet all in one concentrated area. It is found natively in the Carolinas of the United States of America, specifically in a 100 mile radius from Wilmington, North Carolina. It can still be found in the Green Swamp in North Carolina. The weather in this area is generally warm. It fits into the ‘Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas and Shrublands’ biome.

 In the summer the temperatures range between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, though it can easily surpass 100 degrees.  In the winter the temperature generally gets as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  The average temperature during December in this area is 38 degrees.  This doesn’t affect the species that much because the adults can handle temperatures down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Seedlings, on the other hand, cannot survive under extremely chilly temperatures (Sandjgreens 2003). 

The soil is consisted of many different types: loam, sand, and peat.  Loamy soils consist of 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. It absorbs and drains water easily and is good for gardening (Wikipedia 2008).  Sandy soils consist of large particles that are rounded rather than flattened.  They drain well and warm quickly (WCA 2006). Peat soils are made out of decomposing remains of plants.  They continue to accumulate because the wet environment is not conducive to aerobic decomposition.  Aerobic decomposition is when matter is being decomposed in the presence of air.  Much of the material that is part of peat are reeds, sedges, sphagnum moss (a special favorite of Venus Flytraps’) and grasses. The land that it exists on often becomes flooded during the springs and extremely dry during the summer (Environmental Encyclopedia 2007).

With this combination of soils, and a pH content of 4 or 5, the Venus flytrap can withstand any amount of sun exposure without wilting. Because the soil is so acidic, the plant has adapted to gaining the nutrients that every plant needs (especially nitrogen) by digesting insects (Howstuffworks 2008). 

Some plants that live in harmony with the Dionaea muscipula are thirteen other species of carnivorous plants, including four species of the pitcher plant and the sundew. Other plants that exist in this region are gallberry, titi, and sweetbay.  It is an area known for its longleaf pine savannahs.  The particular area of the Green Swamp in North Carolina actually benefits from sporadic fires.  Many of the plants need bare land to germinate their seed.  Other plants, such as the orchids and carnivorous plants (especially the Venus Flytrap) have roots that are protected from the hottest of fires. Some animals that live here are black bears, bobcats, snakes, and squirrels, along with the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (The Nature Conservancy 2007). 

The main threat for this plant, along with many carnivorous plants is that people are interested in them to a degree that it is harming their existence.  Venus flytraps get removed illegally from their natural habitat every day.  In 1993, it was estimated that 500,000 flytraps were stolen and exported to European countries (Schnell 2002).  

Another threat is that there is much destruction happening to the boggy areas where the plants live.  This is due to the creation of new landfills, farmlands, and pine tree plantations (Wint 2007).    Fortunately, much of the area that the Venus flytrap occupies is now under a preservation land.  This is because the Venus flytrap is considered an endangered species. 

What can we do to help prevent threats against the Dionaea muscipula? Firstly, if one wants to obtain this fascinating plant you can simply buy one at a local store.  Many nurseries and some home appliance stores sell these. You are still getting the same plant without actually removing the few that are left in their habitat.  

Another suggestion is to send letters to the governor of North Carolina, petitioning for the prevention of building landfills in the Green Swamp and areas around it.  Knowing that Venus Flytraps are only native to this small area in the whole world makes it important to preserve their land.  Yes, the Dionaea muscipula will continue to survive because it is now a very popular domesticated plant.  But it is so important to keep them in the wild and in their natural habitat.  Soon, if we do not watch ourselves, they will be extinct.  

This species Dionaea muscipula has both an advantage and disadvantage for living in such a small area.  The disadvantage is that if the habitat that it lives in is destroyed, the native plant will become extinct.  The advantage of it living in such a specific area is that if people protect that small amount of land, there will be very little problems for it surviving.  Unfortunately, only some of the land is part of a conservation and the rest of the land is being built upon. 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Bookrags Staff.  c 2007. Peat Soils. In Environmental Encyclopedia @Thomson Gale. [Internet] Thomson Corporation: [cited 2008 Mar 3]. Available from: http://www.bookrags.com/research/peat-soils-enve-02/

How Stuff Works. c 2007. Flesh Eaters. In: HowStuffWorks, Inc. [cited 2008 Mar 2]. Available from: http://express.howstuffworks.com/exp-venus-flytrap.htm

S and J Greens. 2003. Venus Flytrap. S and J Greens [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 4]. Available from: http://www.sandjgreens.com/main.htm

Schnell. 2002. Venus Flytrap. Arkive [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 3]. Available from: http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/plants_and_algae/Dionaea_muscipula/more_info.html

The Nature Conservancy. 2007. The Nature Conservancy [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 3]. Available from: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/northcarolina/preserves/art5606.html

WCA infoNet. 2006. Sandy Soils. [Internet]. [cited 2008 Mar 2]. Available from: http://www.wca-infonet.org/servlet/CDSServlet?status=ND05NjI4JmN0bl9pbmZvX3ZpZXdfc2l6ZT1jdG5faW5mb192aWV3X2Z1bGwmNj1lbiYzMz0qJjM3PWtvcw~~

Wikipedia. 2008. Loamy Soils. A Wikipedia Project. [cited 2008 Mar 3]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loam

Wint, J. 2007.  So What’s Special About the Green Swamp? [Internet] [cited 2008 Mar 4].  Available from: http://www.geocities.com/greenswamp211/greenswamp.htm 

 

 

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