The plant consists of a short unbranched rhizome, which is a bulb-like structure formed by the overlapping basal portions of leaves surrounding the growing point. The root system is not extensive. The blade portion of each leaf is modified into a trap, by which the plant captures its prey, while the basal portion, the petiole which supports the trap, is fleshy and stores food. The total length of the leaf may be up to 8 in. (20 cm) long. The leaves are arranged in a rosette, forming a circular pattern around the growing point. New leaves originate from the growing point at the center of the rosette and are protected by the overlapping expanded basal portions of the older leaves. (Fig. 2-D
Leaf characteristics vary with the season. Spring leaves tend to be green with broad petioles, whose lateral extensions are referred to as wings. The spring leaves reach lengths of 23A in. (7 cm) with a width of 3/4 in. (2 cm) at their broadest point. They are either erect or prostrate. Red coloration is absent or relatively limited, but when present it is usually restricted to the glands on the inner surface of the traps. Production of spring leaves is terminated by flowering during late spring or early summer. After
Fig. 2-1 Dionaea plant with inflorescence.
flowering is complete, summer leaves are produced which are easily differentiated from spring leaves, as they can be as long as or longer than the spring leaves but are very narrow and almost wingless. The traps produced by a plant usually are largest on the summer leaves and smallest on the winter leaves. Summer leaves tend to grow vertically. Plants growing in intense light, either natural or artifical, develop traps whose inner surfaces, and at times even the marginal spines, are a solid deep maroon-red color. (Photo 2-1) Light intensity controls red coloration in a majority of the Venus Fly Trap plants, although in some it is genetically controlled. When these plants are growing side by side, exposed to the same high-intensity light, most will develop a deep red coloration, but a few may not. With the beginning of fall, winter-type leaves with smaller traps are produced. These leaves tend to be prostrate and the width of the petioles tends to be between that of the spring and summer leaves.
In protected areas of their natural habitat the plants tend to be evergreen, but in other areas frost can kill the leaves during the winter.
In the spring, May and June, the plant produces a tall scape (flower stalk), with white flowers. The scape bears from 1-15 white flowers. Each flower consists of 5 green sepals, 5 white petals, usually 15 stamens and 1 compound pistil. (Fig. 2-2) Terminal flower buds open first, followed by the sequential opening of the others further down toward the base of the scape with up to 4 flowers open at one time. Plants grown from bulbs that were kept in cold storage usually will bloom within 2-3 months of planting, regardless of the season. If seed is not desired, remove the scape as soon as it is visible so that energy consumed by the flowering process can be diverted to vegetative plant growth and development.
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