|MadSci Network: Botany|
Hello Paul: Dionaea muscipula is scientific name for the famous Venus Fly Trap. Dionaea muscipula is the only species in the genus. This rare plant is found in southern North Carolina. Unfortunately, its endangered status does not stop collectors from risking high fines and field collecting them. Insect capture is performed by attracting the insects with nectar to bi-lobed leaves, which snap shut upon the prey. Usually these plants are colored green, with splashes of red on the inner surfaces of the traps. Several varieties have beautiful combinations of red, yellow, and green patterns on their traps. Variations are not restricted to color types; some plants are smaller than usual, others have shorter than normal "teeth." This plant can be cultivated provided its basic requirements for growing are met. See the Carnivorous Plant FAQ for more information: http://mips3.as.arizona.edu/~barry/cps/faq/faq2a.html Dionaea have a digestive gland that secretes a variety of acids, enzymes and other digestive compounds. In addition, bacteria that are present in the digestive compartments of the plants aid in the breakdown of the prey. Being such a complex chemical and biological environment, it will be very difficult to mimic experimentally in a beaker. Early studies of Darwin (1875) and Balfour (1875) showed that the secreted fluid in Dionaea to contain formic, butyric and propionic acids. The fluid present in stimulated Dionaea traps is typically pH 2.5-3.5. Commercially available acids, such as HCl, can be diluted to a similar pH, but be sure that your scientific conclusions take into account the many differences between your experimental environment, and the digestive environment of the Dionaea. Good Luck Paul! Regards, Justin V. Remais Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Accelerator and Fusion Research Division Excellent Reference: Juniper, Robins and Joel. "The Carnivorous Plants." Academic Press, 1989.
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