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Before we talk about how the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) digests its prey, it is important to know why it does so. It can make its own food through photosynthesis, so the insecteating plant does not use prey for the traditional animal objectives of harvesting energy and carbon. Rather it mines its food primarily for essential nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus in particular) that are in short supply in its boggy, acidic habitat.
The Venus flytrap occurs in a restricted range of sandy shrub bogs in coastal North Carolina and South Carolina, where it is an endangered species. Frequent fires there clear out competing plants and volatilize nitrogen in the soil. Hence, Venus flytraps' unique adaptation enables them to access nitrogen when other plants can't get it from the soil.