Life was easy as a second grader. School wasn’t hard. A normal day consisted of arts and crafts projects alternating with short lessons in Mathematics and English. Friends weren’t hard to meet. Anyone could play sports if they had enough determination to organize a game. Some of my fondest memories are the moments I would get home from school, grab a box of gummies, and sit at the TV to watch whatever cartoon happened to be on in the early afternoon. On one of those cloudy afternoons after school, it happened to be a cartoon episode about a group of kids trying to escape a mutant Venus fly trap, the Dionaea muscipula.
The overwhelmingly large fly trap was located near a nuclear plant, where nuclear waste enabled it to rapidly move. The kids screamed as the large fly trap opened its massive jaw revealing its sharp teeth. The plant seemed only to chase after them. As with most cartoons, the kids eventually banded together and defeated the monster by creating a machine to destroy the plant. Being a second grade boy, I was fascinated by the mass destruction associated with the Venus fly trap. Later that night at dinner, a fantastic idea floated through my head.
I wanted to get my own Venus fly trap.
Without hesitation, I looked up at my parents and told them about my interest. They made me an offer: if I kept my grades up for the rest of the year, I could get a Venus fly trap. Deal. Once the school year was over, I followed up on their promise. We went on the internet and ordered the vicious plant. A few days later, it came in the mail. I had never seen something so beautiful in my life. I unpackaged the plant and examined it in awe. The plant was only a couple inches tall, but it already had its own personality. It seemed like a true monster with multiple mouths and teeth. In reality, it was just the plant’s trapping mechanism. I put my finger in the mouth of one of the fly traps and felt the mouth slowly start to close down. As a second grader, this was close to the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Over the next couple of days, I would check in on my plant. Each time I gave it some water, I imagined what would happen if I put it near a nuclear plant. Would it really chase after me? I imagined the cartoon characters running away from the horrifying teeth of my the plant.
I went to bed thinking about the awesome power of a mutant Venus fly Trap. Then came the first blood. I ran over to the plant the next morning. Its mouth was closed. Every other day, its mouth had been open. I knew what happened. I put my face close to the plant to get a better look. I saw what I exactly what I had hoped. It finally caught a fruit fly. It was from that moment on that I had a new respect for plants. Even ordinary trees and bushes I realized had abilities which, while not as cool as eating small bugs, were not apparent from a simple glance. While the fly trap may be a killer, it opened my eyes to the power of plants.
Author: Jack, a UC Berkeley student studying business. He wrote this piece as a part of an English project.
For more on carnivorous plants, read “Pitcher Plant Mania“; “What’s in a Name, a Plant Name?”; and “Mary Treat’s Venus Flytrap Experiments.”
Or…share your carnivorous plant stories here or in the comments!