Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Venus Flytrap

Carnivorous plants are those, which obtain the nutrients  by  trapping smaller animals like insects and other arthropods. Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is one such plant. It feeds on beetles, spiders and arthropods. Venus Flytrap is found in nitrogen- and phosphorus poor environments, its native being boggy areas of North and South Carolina.
            Venus Flytrap has narrow, green leaves that extend from the base of the plant. A pair of reddish, kidney shaped lobes is hinged on the either side of a mid-rib at the terminal part of the leaf. These lobes form the trap. On the upper portion of, each side of the trap anthocyanin pigments are present and that gives red or purple color to this surface .Most probably this color attracts the insects towards the plant. Outer margin of the lobe contains spikes and nectar glands beneath the spikes. Few isolated hairs can be seen on the lobes.
            Insect crawling on the leaf, when contacts hair, triggers the trap to snap shut. It is interesting to note that trapping mechanism can distinguish between living prey and other stimuli like falling rain drops. If  two trigger hairs are touched by insect or one trigger hair is touched twice within a short period of time(say 20 seconds) the trap is closed within 10th of a second. Inside the trap the prey struggles and repeatedly touches the trigger hair. This in turn tightens the trap. If the prey is too small it can escape from the teeth of the trap. It is beneficial to plant because the energy spent to digest small prey is more than the energy obtained from it. Within few minutes the trap will become air tight and digestive fluid inside dissolves the soft part of the insect so that nutrients are absorbed.
            The exact mechanism of the trapping is not known. It is believed to be due to the complex interaction of some biochemical and elastic processes. It takes five to twelve days for the digestion to complete and then the trap reopens and the remaining exoskeleton is removed either by rain or by the wind. Mature plants produce flowers on the long stalks and then tiny seeds are formed.
 Carnivora is a patented extract of Venus flytrap plant, is claimed to have immune stimulant and anticancer properties. Botanists studied Venus Flytrap in the 17th and 18th centuries. They found a parallel between the trap of the plant and certain aspects of female anatomy and behavior. So it is said that they named the plant after Venus, the pagan goddess of love and money.
 Venus fly traps have evolved into carnivorous plant due to lack of nutrients in the soil that required for plant growth. Nitrogen from trapped prey is used by the plant for the protein formation as it grows in nitrogen deficient soil. Venus Flytrap a wonder of the nature  and serves as the example for the adaptation of the life to the toughest environment.

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