The weird biology of the Venus flytrap

A carnivorous plant with leaves that snap shut around insects and spiders? What's not to love! Real Science reveals the weird biology of Dionaea muscipula, aka the Venus flytrap. Native to North and South Carolina in the US, the plant was first described in 1759 by Colonial governor Arthur Dobbs. The following is from a letter Dobbs wrote the following year to botanist Peter Collinson:

The great wonder of the vegetable kingdom is a very curious unknown species of Sensitive. It is a dwarf plant. The leaves are like a narrow segment of a sphere, consisting of two parts, like the cap of a spring purse, the concave part outwards, each of which falls back with indented edges (like an iron spring fox-trap); upon anything touching the leaves, or falling between them, they instantly close like a spring trap, and confine any insect or anything that falls between them. It bears a white flower. To this surprising plant I have given the name of Fly trap Sensitive.

image: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/