1791 engraving of a Venus fly trap plant

1791 engraving of a Venus fly trap plant

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Credit: GEORGE BERNARD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Venus fly trap. 1791 engraving of a Venus fly trap plant, Dionaea muscipula, in flower. The leaves of the Venus fly trap form a sophisticated mechanical trap. Each consists of two lobes, separated by a central rib that acts like a hinge. Thin spines on the edge of each lobe interlock to form a prison when the two lobes close on an unwary insect. The mechanism is triggered by touch-sensitive hairs on the inner surface of each lobe. When an insect is trapped, the leaf secretes an enzyme that helps to digest it, releasing nutrients for the plant. From The Botanic Garden (1789-92), a poem on science and nature by Erasmus Darwin.

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Keywords: 1791 engrav, 1791 engraving, botany, carnivorous plants, dionaea muscipula, insectivorous, nature, plant, venus fly trap

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