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Adaptations of the Venus Flytrap

Updated February 21, 2017

Adaptations are changes in plant development over time that give it a better chance at survival. The Venus flytrap has several interesting adaptations that are crucial to its vigour and growth. The plant lives in soils that lack nitrogen, which is a protein synthesizer. It must seek sources of protein outside the normal plant uptake process. Venus flytrap can be found growing in bogs in North and South Carolina where its primary source of nitrogen is from insects. The flytrap traps and breaks down the insects to harvest the nitrogen from the bugs.

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The leaves of the Venus flytrap are a useful shape. They have a bendable midrib that can close the two sides of the leaf. The edges of the leaves are fringed with toothlike hairs that are sensitive to vibrations of insects that have stepped on the surface. The clam shell shape effectively encloses the prey so enzyme breakdown can take place. The hairs lace together like fingers and trap the prey while the enzymes do their work.

Speed of Movement

The leaves of the flytrap can close in a second. The leaves go from convex to concave to facilitate the closing. The leaves are doubly curved, which allows them to store elastic energy. The movement is instigated by the three to six sensitive hairs on the leaves and is thought to be the result of hydraulic action. The leaves have a type of electric current that is tripped when an insect enters and signals the movement of fluid into the midrib. The leaves shut and seal tightly.


Insects are lured to the Venus flytrap by sweet-smelling nectar. Once they are trapped inside, the digestive glands on the inside edges of the leaves release an enzyme that will dissolve the prey. The soft parts of the insect are digested, but the exoskeleton remains. In 5 to 12 days, the leaf lobes open and the exoskeleton is blown away.The inside of the leaves also exude an antiseptic secretion that purifies the prey and keeps it from rotting while digestion is taking place.

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About the Author

Bonnie Grant

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.

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