THE LEGENDARY VENUS FLY TRAP
The strange mysterious plant that catches and eats flies and insects.
Truly one of the marvels of Nature, these unusual plants have been known to plant scientists for only 200 years. It was on 2 January 1760, while walking through a forest in North Carolina, that the colonial Governor, Arthur Dobbs, came upon a spectacle that amazed and astounded him. There beneath his feet he discovered a patch of strange plants that were actually trapping and devouring insects. Just as moths are attracted to light, he saw flies, beetles, moths and other insects being lured to their destruction as of by some hypnotic power. In his diary he wrote, “The greatest wonder of the vegetable kingdom is a very curious unknown species. Upon anything touching the leaves, they instantly close like a spring trap. It bears a white flower. To this surprising plant, I have given the name “Fly Trap”.
Then, in 1875 Charles Darwin, one of he worlds greatest scientific investigators, became intrigued with the Venus Fly Trap. The plant commonly called Venus Fly Trap from the rapidly and force of its movements is one of the most wonderful in the world.
MECHANISM OF THE VENUS FLY TRAP
The Venus Fly Trap (Dionea Muscipula) is one of a kind, unlike all other plants known to botany. This one stands alone. Just what is it? Is it the missing link? Various theories have been advanced through the years. To name a few: The plant posses a nervous system: – the plant has a reflex action: the plants are only found around craters excavated by lunar objects, hence are from another planet. The plain truth … it has been determined under Cathode Ray that an electric spark generated by static electricity is the motivating force that shuts and holds the trap, having the capacity to exert a two-ounce pull on postal scales. This action is rapid and decisive, the trap closing at a rate of 1,22 m per second. All small insects are enclosed in the trap. Larger insects, like grasshoppers and wasps have their heads at the nectar in the open traps. Such force is exerted that these large insects (sometimes 20 times the size of the trap) are held securely by the teeth which curve inward and combined have a total strength of one ounce on postal scales. This efficient trap is unique in the plant world and this is only the beginning. A set of glands located at the base of three hair-like projections in the inner surface of each side of the rap secrete an operational only when hinge of trap is open to 90 degrees. When an insect or any other object bridges the gap between the hairs, the trap closes. Also in the connection, any trap that is closed prematurely will not go into routine digestive procedures. When nature is taking its proper course, the trap opens to 90 degrees, fragrance is secreted, and insect is attracted, then captured. Now comes this remarkable plant’s closest connection with animal world. An acid enzymatic fluid from a previously unmentioned set of glands emerges and breaks down living tissue, converting them to plant food. When this p[process is completed, the trap opens up and all there is left is skeletal structures – all nitrogenous matter have been utilized by plant for it’s nutrition. Truly remarkable, this plant is the closest connection between plant world and animal world. In addition to its unique function, the Venus Fly Trap is a beautiful plant. The leaves are bright green and grows outward and upward from the base. The inner sides of the lobes at the end leaves are bright red when subjected to the ultra violet rays of the sun. A flower stalk (from 10 – 25 cm tall) pushes up from the bulb at the centre of the plant in spring and soon blooms with a cluster of delicate white flowers. When the flower fades, seed pods, producing as many as 30 seeds per pod. Old leaves whiter and die at intervals, but as each leave dies, a new one rises from the bulb to replace it.
HOW TO GROW THE VENUS FLY TRAP
Venus Fly Traps are fairly easy to grow once their few particular requirements have been understood, bearing in mind that they grow naturally in permanent wet bog lands in the mild parts of the South Coast (USA). Plants are best grown in a sunny, frost-free position; greenhouse or a sunny south-facing windowsill is ideal. Plants growing in a sunny position will produce many red healthy traps.
SOIL: The best choice of growing medium consists of 2 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss (NOT pH Stabilised) to 1 part fine filter sand. The soil should be acidic pH 5-6. Your Venus Fly Trap have been supplied, established in this growing medium, do not use any ordinary potting soil, this will cause the plant to die!!!! It is advisable to transplant your Venus Fly Trap once a year, in early spring only.
TO TRANSPLANT: move entire plant so that the roots are not disturbed and firmly plant in a suitable container with the right potting mixture. Increase the size of the pot as your plant increase in size.
WATER: Rainwater is best, although distilled or deionised water is a useful substitute as long as the water does not contain much calcium and are not alkaline. When tap water is used, it is recommended that the soil be changed after approximately every six months to prevent build up of salts. Ensure that the pot is always standing in approximately 5 – 10mm of water. It will also benefit from the humidity this creates. During Winter, the plant should only be kept moist. Never allow your Fly Trap to dry out!!!!
LIGHT: Your Venus Fly Trap benefit allot from sunlight and needs a minimum of 2 – 4 hours of direct sunlight to produce lots of attractive red traps.
FEEDING: Although these plants will grow satisfactory with no insects, the catching thereof is like a tonic and can result in new growth and flowering. (NB the flowering of the Venus Fly Trap has a decidedly draining effect on the bulb of the plant, therefore it is generally advised to cut off the flower stalk early, thereby ensure a strong and healthy plant).
IMPORTANT: THE VENUS FLY TRAP MUST NEVER BE FERTILISED, THIS WOULD CAUSE INSTANT DEATH!!!!
Plants may go dormant in Winter, keep moist during this period and new shoots will reappear. Always cut off brown traps (This Is Normal), and new ones will form.