Stretched leaves of the Venus flytrap power rapid trap closure by storing mechanical energy.

Edit Hook

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) has to rapidly capture prey by ensnaring it between its leaves. Instead of using muscles to create movement, this plant changes the shape of its leaves to store potential mechanical energy that can be released when it needs to trigger trap closure.

While the trap is opening, the plant stretches its leaves back on themselves, and this stretching stores potential mechanical energy in the form of elastic energy. When the trap is triggered to snap shut, hydraulic movement in the leaves releases the stored energy, causing the trap to snap closed over its prey. As author Yoël Forterre explains: “In essence, a leaf stretches until reaching a point of instability where it can no longer maintain the strain. Like releasing a reversed plastic lid or part of a cut tennis ball, each leaf folds back in on itself, and in the process of returning to its original shape, ensnares the victim in the middle.”

Check out this related strategy to learn more about what triggers the Venus flytrap leaves to snap shut.

Edit Summary

References

“The rapid closure of the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) leaf in about 100 ms is one of the fastest movements in the plant kingdom. This led Darwin to describe the plant as “one of the most wonderful in the world”. (Forterre 2005:421).

“This ingenious solution to the problem of scaling up movements and speed from the cellular to the organ level in plants, nature’s consummate hydraulic engineers, shows how controlling elastic instabilities in geometrically slender objects provides an alternative to the more common muscle-powered movements in animals.” (Forterre 2005: 425)

Journal article
How the Venus flytrap snaps.NatureJanuary 1, 2005
Forterre Y, Skotheim JM, Dumais J, Mahadevan L.

“In essence, a leaf stretches until reaching a point of instability where it can no longer maintain the strain. Like releasing a reversed plastic lid or part of a cut tennis ball, each leaf folds back in on itself, and in the process of returning to its original shape, ensnares the victim in the middle”.

Web page
Secret of the Venus flytrap revealed.Scientific AmericanJanuary 1, 2005
Scientific American

Edit References

Living System/s

Organism
Venus FlytrapDionaea muscipulaSpecies

Edit Living Systems