How Does a Venus Flytrap Function?

We have gained knowledge about many fascinating plants here in Wonderopolis. If you have been Wondering with us for a while, you may understand why the sensitive plant is timid. You might be able to identify a weed or poison ivy. Today’s Wonder is centered around another one of the most intriguing plants in the world – the Venus flytrap!

Have you ever encountered a Venus flytrap? If so, you may already be aware that its name suits it quite well. It unquestionably appears to be a plant from another planet! However, it is very much a resident of Earth, just like you and us. The Venus flytrap grows naturally in North and South Carolina, on the east coast of the United States.

How did this plant acquire the name “flytrap”? We are confident you can guess! The Venus flytrap, also scientifically known as Dionaea muscipula, is one of approximately 630 species of carnivorous plants worldwide. If you observe a Venus flytrap in its natural habitat, you might have the opportunity to witness it consuming a beetle, grasshopper, or spider.

Similar to other plants, the Venus flytrap obtains energy through the process of photosynthesis. However, unlike other plants, it tends to grow in nutrient-deficient soil. This is why it has to find alternative ways to meet its dietary requirements, which other plants absorb through their roots from the ground. Experts believe this is the reason why the Venus flytrap evolved to consume insects over time.

How does a Venus flytrap operate exactly? At the end of each leaf, there is a trap – two sections of leaf connected by a vein. The leaf is covered in small hairs that aid the plant in detecting the presence of prey. Bugs, attracted by the scent of the flytrap’s nectar, land on the leaf. This prompts the trap to close rapidly, trapping the unfortunate insect inside.

Once the Venus flytrap closes, it releases digestive enzymes that break down the trapped insect into a liquid substance. The plant can then absorb the liquid, deriving nutrients from its prey.

Today, Venus flytraps are a threatened species. In fact, they are on the brink of becoming endangered. This is largely due to poaching – individuals illegally harvest the plants and sell them to others. They are also at risk due to habitat destruction caused by development projects that destroy their homes.

Many people are captivated by Venus flytraps and desire to have one in their homes. However, it is crucial not to support poachers who harm the native populations. If you or someone you know is seeking one of these unique plants, always inquire about its origin before making a purchase. If it was illegally taken from a protected area, opt for legally harvested plants instead.

What would you think if you encountered a Venus flytrap in its natural habitat? These extraordinary plants are truly a spectacle. And they are just one type of carnivorous plant! Let us know what you are curious about regarding the other ones.

Give It a Try

Learn more with the assistance of a friend or family member and the activities provided below!

If you want to know more about other carnivorous plants, you can read about them on National Geographic. Take note of what you learn and share interesting facts with a friend or family member.

You can also start a plant journal to document the native plants in your area. Take a walk with an adult and draw pictures of the plants you find interesting. Ask for help in identifying the plants and then research more about them online or at the library. Write down the facts you discover in your journal.

For a fun and educational craft project, you can make your own Venus flytrap. Find the free instructions below and make sure to have an adult supervise. Don’t forget to write down the interesting facts you learned from this Wonder on the inside of your flytrap. Enjoy the crafting experience!

Here are some sources you can refer to for more information on Venus flytraps:

– https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Plants-and-Fungi/Venus-Flytrap (accessed 08 Mar. 2021)

– https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-venus-flytraps-lethal-allure-5092361/ (accessed 08 Mar. 2021)

– https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/plants/venus-flytrap (accessed 08 Mar. 2021)

– https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 08 Mar. 2021)

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