MadSci Network: Botany

Re: If all plants are autotrophic, why are venus flytraps plants?

Date: Fri Oct 26 01:55:20 2001
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1003975167.Bt

Venus flytrap is autotrophic because it is photosynthetic and therefore gets 
its energy from light. It is classified as a carnivorous plant but the insects 
or small animals it digests provide it mainly inorganic mineral nutrients, 
especially nitrogen, rather than energy. Venus flytrap is native to North 
Carolina and grows in bogs. Bog soils are low in many essential mineral 
nutrients, particularly nitrogen, which explains why it evolved a carnivorous 
habit. Venus flytraps do not absolutely need to trap insects to survive, but it 
can be very beneficial for them in their natural habitat because it is mineral 
nutrient deficient. People who grow venus flytraps for sale or as a hobby 
usually supply them with some fertilizer.

Not all flowering plants are autotrophic. There are many plant species that are 
heterotrophic, which was recently discussed in detail on the Mad Scientist 
Network (see first reference). Heterotrophic plants can be either parasitic or 

Many biology teachers try to avoid the term food when defining autotrophs 
because heterotrophs require food, not autotrophs. Plants are food for other 
heterotrophs but it gets somewhat confusing when books say a plant makes its 
own food. Autotrophs can be defined as organisms that obtain their energy from 
light or inorganic chemicals. Heterotrophs obtain their energy from other 

Venus flytrap classification:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Anthophyta or Magnoliophyta (flowering plants or angiosperms)
Class: Dicotyledonae or Magnoliopsida  (dicots)
Order: Nepenthales
Family: Droseraceae 
Genus: Dionea or Dionaea
Species: Dionea muscipula 
(Note that muscipula is termed the specific epithet, not the species)

Search for many websites on venus flytrap.


Re: Are there any plants that do not produce/release oxygen?

Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledonae

Nepenthales Droseraceae Dionea muscipula

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