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article imageThe mysterious Venus flytrap is almost gone in the wild

By Karen Graham     Aug 19, 2015 in Environment
Wilmington - The carnivorous Venus flytrap is one of the most well-known plant species in the world. Easy to cultivate, it is found in nurseries, shops and gardens around the globe. Yet in the wild, this iconic plant is also one of the rarest on the planet.
People think the Venus flytrap must be a very prolific plant because, after all, they are for sale everywhere you go these days. But in its native habitat, the Venus flytrap is not faring very well.
Like all plants, the Venus flytrap gets nutrients from gasses in the air and the soil. But because in nature they live in very poor soil, they must get needed nutrients from insects. While there are carnivorous plants found all around the world, the Venus flytrap is native to only one place, and it's in the southern United States.
Venus flytrap is disappearing in the wild
In the wild, the Venus flytrap can be found in a 100-mile range surrounding Wilmington, a city of about 111,000 people, 10 miles from the North Carolina coast. At one time, it used to thrive in the nitrogen and phosphorus-poor soil of the bogs and wet savannas of this region between North and South Carolina. Now, what's left of the plants are located on lands owned by The Nature Conservancy, the North Carolina state government, or the U.S. military.
The Venus flytrap is native to the southern U.S. and is still found in protected areas near Wiimingt...
The Venus flytrap is native to the southern U.S. and is still found in protected areas near Wiimington, N. C.
BBC
The Venus flytrap is not a real tropical plant, as many people believe, and does very well with mild winters. Actually, if the plants don't go through a period of winter dormancy, they will die after a short period of time. But a lack of winter dormancy in the wild is not what's causing the plant to disappear.
There are several reasons for the dwindling numbers of the Venus flytrap in its native habitat. It has been estimated there are fewer than 33,000 plants left. One reason for its disappearance is habitat loss and a lack of controlled burns to keep the plants healthy. With the habitats now owned by private or government agencies, the plants should be safe. But they are not.
A far bigger reason for the disappearance of the Venus flytrap is poaching. The plant is listed as "vulnerable" by the National Wildlife Federation. Poaching has become so bad that in 2014, North Carolina passed legislation making theft of a Venus flytrap in its natural habitat a felony.
Even though the Venus flytrap is easily propagated, it is strange that poachers would go to the trouble of stealing them from protected habitats. Some poachers have been caught with as many as 800 or more plants on them. The poachers don't get much for their hauls, maybe 25-cents a plant, so its a wonder why they go to the trouble.
Controlled burns are rarely done  making the life of a Venus flytrap all that much harder. This plan...
Controlled burns are rarely done, making the life of a Venus flytrap all that much harder. This plant is almost hidden in the grasses.
WCNC
A little bit about the Venus flytrap
The Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is a subtropical, carnivorous plant. It is the only plant in its genus and is closely related to the waterwheel plant and sundews, all of which belong to the family Droseraceae. It catches it prey, mainly insects and arachnids with a trapping structure at the ends of its leaves.
The "trap" is triggered by tiny hairs on the inside surfaces of the leaves. The plant has what is called a redundant triggering mechanism that serves to save energy. So if an insect lands on a leaf and contacts one hair, the plant waits about 20 seconds for another hair to be contacted, and then its all over because the trap springs shut.
The Venus flytrap has a redundant trap mechanism that prevents useless opening and closing.
The Venus flytrap has a redundant trap mechanism that prevents useless opening and closing.
Mnolf
The plant gets its common name from the Roman goddess of love, Venus. Its genus, Dionaea, or "daughter of Dione," refers to the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. The species name, muscipula, is Latin for "mousetrap." Historically, the Venus flytrap was also known as the "tipitiwitchet" or "tippity twitchet," a reference to the plant's resemblance to a part of the human female genitalia.
More about Venus Flytrap, environmental adaption, carnivorous plant, most cultivated, Vulnerable
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