Imagining a Venus' flytrap might bring up exotic images of the Amazon jungle or a lush forest on a deserted island. But in reality, Venus' flytraps only grow naturally in a minuscule geographical area of marshes in North and South Carolina. These alien-looking plants have some extremely peculiar qualities and have been a source of mystery and legend for centuries. Here are seven fun facts about Venus' flytraps:
1. Venus' flytraps are endangered. People were so fascinated with the unusual plant that they took many of them away from their native soil, eventually pushing Venus' flytraps near extinction.
2. There are over 500 kinds of carnivorous plants in the world. They are mainly a product of low-nutrient environments. Though they survive off of photosynthesis like other plants, they require additional nutrients to stay alive.
3. Venus' flytraps can "spit out" objects. Okay, so they don't actually propel the object from the trap. When one of the traps catches a living organism such as a bug, trigger hairs inside the trap are contacted as the prey tries to escape, telling the trap to close. If nonliving detritus such as dirt or a rock land in the trap, the trigger hairs aren't stimulated. So when the Venus' flytrap regains energy, it opens up and allows the object to fall out or blow away in the wind.
4. When a Venus' flytrap captures prey, it secretes digestive juices in a way similar to how a stomach functions. This allows the plant to breakdown its prey, although it cannot envelop the tough exoskeletons of insects. Instead, it reopens and allows the debris to fall away.
5. The first part of the name originates from the pagan goddess of love, Venus, and is meant to symbolize the way the plant lures its prey. (If you research this designation further, be prepared to encounter some stories about vulgar-minded naturalists.)
6. Despite myths brought on by the popularity of "Little Shop of Horrors," flytraps stick to eating insects and arachnids. Of course, it is easiest to spot flies buzzing around the air and landing on the traps, which contributes to the name.
7. Some insects are too big for flytraps to consume. If a Venus' flytrap captures prey that is too large, the particular trap often dies because mold and bacteria attack the dead insect. Venus' flytraps can afford to lose one or two traps this way.