Venus flytrap biomechanics: Forces in the Dionaea muscipula trap

Alexander G. Volkov, Shawn L. Harris, Chrystelle L. Vilfranc, Veronica A. Murphy, Joseph D. Wooten, Henoc Paulicin, Maia I. Volkova, Vladislav S. Markin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Biomechanics of morphing structures in the Venus flytrap has attracted the attention of scientists during the last 140 years. The trap closes in a tenth of a second if a prey touches a trigger hair twice. The driving force of the closing process is most likely due to the elastic curvature energy stored and locked in the leaves, which is caused by a pressure differential between the upper and lower layers of the leaf. The trap strikes, holds and compresses the prey. We have developed new methods for measuring all these forces involved in the hunting cycle. We made precise calibration of the piezoelectric sensor and performed direct measurements of the average impact force of the trap closing using a high speed video camera for the determination of time constants. The new equation for the average impact force was derived. The impact average force between rims of two lobes in the Venus flytrap was found equal to 149. mN and the corresponding pressure between the rims was about 41. kPa. Direct measurements of the constriction force in the trap of Dionaea muscipula was performed during gelatin digestion. This force increases in the process of digestion from zero to 450. mN with maximal constriction pressure created by the lobes reaching to 9. kPa. The insects and different small prey have little chance to escape after the snap of the trap. The prey would need to overpower the "escaping" force which is very strong and can reach up to 4. N.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Carnivorous plant
  • Electrophysiology
  • Morphing structures
  • Plant biomechanics
  • Venus flytrap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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