In fact, Charles Darwin labeled this plant as “one of the most wonderful in the world.” When he wrote Insectivorous Plants in 1875, he brought plants that entrap insects to the world’s attention. The video below by UNC-TV helps to understand why the flytrap itself is so amazing.
However, the Venus Flytrap is not naturally a worldwide resident. It lives in only the South and only two states – North Carolina and South Carolina. In fact, its native locations are limited to within 60 miles of Wilmington, NC, where it survives in wet sandy and peaty soils. Because these areas are nutritionally poor and do not contain adequate nitrogen and phosphorus, the plant digests animals to gain nutrients for protein formation that the soil does not provide. In addition, the flytrap tolerates fires well and benefits when its habitat burns, particularly during controlled burns of longleaf pine forests, because the fires eliminate its competition.
|Park ranger at start of hike|
|Sundew, the first carnivorous |
plant on the hike
|Pitcher plant seen on hike|
|Closeup of Venus flytrap at state park|
The highlight of the walk was finding a Venus Flytrap. The first one was smaller than I had expected. Because a plant can live for more than 20 years, this one was probably very young. However, its trapping mechanism with hair-like edges was clearly discernible to us but ready to spring shut on any unsuspecting prey. Because the trap can shut in 0.1 seconds, the plant’s trapping movement is remarkable but is common knowledge to as young as now a first grader. Only during the program did I learn that my granddaughter, then entering the second grade, had already seen a flytrap in school – she was clearly less impressed with the hike than I had hoped.
|Flytraps for sale at farmers |
market in Saxapahaw, NC
Because Mother Earth has more than a million species of insects, the Venus Flytrap is unlikely to go hungry soon. It will also probably continue to be discussed in school programs and sold as novelty plants. However, be careful about trying to impress children how “wonderful” the plant is – they may have already learned by the first grade.
|"Venus flytrap" on display at the River Walk|
in Wilmington, NC, illustrates its connection
to coastal North Carolina