The Venus Flytrap — Dionaea muscipula
A Venus Flytrap (also sometimes spelled Venus Fly Trap or Venus's Fly Trap, scientific name Dionaea muscipula) is one of quite a few types of insect eating or carnivorous plants. But the Venus Flytrap is special not only for its unique leaf traps, but because there is only one species of the plant, and it grows naturally in only one small area of the world, along the eastern coast of the United States in a part of the state of North Carolina, with its growing range extending southward into South Carolina.
The Venus Flytrap was discovered in the 1700's (late 1760's) and named after the greek goddess Dione, giving it the scientific genus name Dionaea. The species name muscipula is derived from the Latin mus (mouse) and cipula (trap). So "goddess Dione's mousetrap" would be one translation of the scientific name of the Venus Flytrap.
An early botanical illustration of the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Another botanical illustration of the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula). The inflorescence (flowers and stalk branching) is incorrect in this early painting, but accurate in the other botanical drawing above.
A healthy Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) in cultivation
Other Carnivorous Plants
The Venus Flytrap is one of only two known species of plants that use the fast-closing double-sided trap mechanism to capture insects (and sometimes other small creatures); the other carnivorous plant that uses a similar mechanism is the water-dwelling Aldrovanda, the so-called water wheel plant.
Aldrovanda vesiculosa, a carnivorous water plant that uses a trap similar to the Venus Flytrap
There are quite a few other carnivorous plants that use different trapping mechanisms, including pitcher shaped leaves that are partially filled with fluid and which form a pitfall from which insects or small animals cannot usually escape (the Sarracenia, Heliamphora, Nepenthes, Darlingtonia and Cephalotus genera) or have leaves that are very sticky and difficult to become detached from (such as the sundews (Drosera) and butterworts (Pinguicula)).
Heliamphora, a South American carnivorous pitcher plant
Cephalotus, an Australian carnivorous pitcher plant
Darlingtonia, a North American carnivorous pitcher plant
A sticky leaved sundew (Drosera) carnivorous plant
A sticky leaved butterwort (Pinguicula) carnivorous plant