Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Introduction to Carnivorous Plants: The Venus Flytrap

Most people have heard of carnivorous plants at one time or another. Perhaps once when at Home Depot you stumbled upon an odd looking plant in a small plastic cube.
Unfortunately, Carnivorous plants are surrounded by myth and obscurity. Much of what people know about them is wrong, and most of the large-scale nursery's that produce them can't even give decent care instructions.
In this post, I will not be covering the care of these plants, or answer the question of why the little plastic cubes they sometimes come in are the main cause of plant-death. Those topics are for next time. Today, meet the world of the Carnivorous plant enthusiast. It is certainly a weird one.

Dionaea muscipula (The Venus Flytrap)
The Venus Flytrap is, without a doubt, the most universally known carnivorous plant in existence. Not only has the Venus Flytrap made its way into popular culture, (think: Little Shop of Horrors)it has also infiltrated most garden centers. The Venus Flytrap is, contrary to popular belief, not a tropical plant. Therefore, it does not need the high humidity of a terrarium(This is why they often die). The natural range of the Venus Flytrap is restricted to a small bog in North Carolina known as "The Green Swamp." Here, over 17,000 acres of protected wetlands make a perfect climate for all sorts of carnivorous plants. Full sun, and temperatures in the 80's during the Summer are just right for our bug biting oddities.
Once Venus Flytraps entered the market, they were cloned so as not to be removed from their habitat. Most Venus Flytraps sold in retail locations are clones. As the popularity of these plants grew, biologists and hobbyists began collecting wild specimens with unique characteristics. These plants were used to create new "cultivars" with different trap sizes, shapes, and colors. One notable cultivar is the Dionaea muscipula 'Dente'. This variety has been bred to posses short teeth around the edge of the trap, instead of the more common long teeth variety.

The Trap
The most interesting aspect of the Venus Flytrap is its seemingly magical ability to lure and ensnare insects. The inside of the trap is red under intense light, and shines out like a beacon to all nearby bugs. As the bug draws nearer, it begins to pick up on the sickeningly sweet scent produced by the many thousands of nectar glads within the trap. If the insect lands within the trap, it must touch a series of trigger hairs(There are usually three trigger hairs on the Flytrap)within a few seconds of each other. After being triggered, the trap slams shut in the blink of an eye, displaying the fastest movement known in the Carnivorous Plant world.
Over the next several days, the Venus flytrap will slowly digest the insect with specialized glands, and absorb all of the nitrogen contained in the body. Because Carnivorous Plants often grow in nutrient poor peat moss, the capture of insects became necessary for the survival of the species. Once the plant consumes the small bug, the trap opens and reveals the empty shell of the insect.

In Part Two I will Discuss Another Well Known Carnivorous Plant: The Sundew

An Original Ballad-Esque Tale

She peers upon a vast expanse of crystalline spires.
Bathed in crimson light, the colossi rise into the depths of the abyssal sky's.

Myopic eyes strain to see a distant shore; a temporal sea.

Yon Ferryman waits by the port, the cadence of the waves implore, whispers her to distant shores.

At once the boat begins to creep. Below cunning monsters feign a restless sleep. Cogent and without remorse, they strike upon the wooden form now gliding on an unknown course.

The Ferryman fights the helm with all his might, to free her from the ancient rights too dangerous for thought or sight. Defeated and outwitted, beast slips back into the deep, to guard against the lesser beings.

They persevere on through the night as placid waters reflect the light of multitudes of pin-point stars echoing through the channels of time.

One billion latent worlds unknown, yet to burgeon forth will soon bemoan the silence of her unsure fate atop the waves, and evanesce upon the rays of Sol's new day.

A fire's lit upon the sky as streams of liquid gold scream by and fall upon the cresting waves to guide the boat along its way.

"We're nearing land, a bird flies nigh" cries Ferryman from mast so high, as Sol begins to arc through sky from West to East in backward time.

Now before them mountains rise, a hope across the voids of time. Silver trees and golden shores, crystals brace the wide fjords where the Ferryman arrives at port.

At journey's end she turns her head to peer back into distant pasts where crimson spires scraped the sky and blackest nights gave lullaby's.

The Ferryman turns and waves, then whispers "Do not question your own fate, the epoch of your fleeting life was rendered useless by the night now lost inside of cyclic time."

"For I am the Ferryman, paragon of pelagic might!"

Final Preparations

I am almost ready to begin writing on the many bizarre and obscure topics I am familiar with. I plan to share this knowledge with as many as possible, and hopefully inspire some like-minded people along the way.

In the coming weeks expect...
  1. An Introduction to Carnivorous Plants
  2. Growing Your Own Killer Plants
  3. DIY Algae Bio-Reactors
  4. A Look Into the Astral
  5. Starting Your Own Meteorite Collection
Don't hesitate to drop a comment at the bottom of this post if you have a topic you would like to see covered. I am always open for suggestions!

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"
                                               -Hunter S. Thompson