Thursday, October 21, 2021

Venus Flytrap

“Venus Flytrap” 
(Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2021) 22x28” 
White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton batting, interfacing, cotton thread, cotton backing fabric. Wholecloth painted, free-motion machine quilted.

I finished this piece in August and forgot to post about it! I have always loved the Venus Flytrap, and had one when I was a kid. We purchased it at a gift shop on the Outer Banks in N.C. during a family vacation, and it came in a plastic domed cup, like a Dairy Queen ice cream sundae. I did not realize that they were native to North Carolina until I was educated by the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. It has a fabulous display of carnivorous plants, including Pitcher Plants, Venus Flytrap and Dewdrops. 

Charles Darwin called it “the most wonderful plant in the world” in 1875.

The Venus flytrap is a fascinating carnivorous plant native to a 75-mile radius of Wilmington, NC. It is endemic in 14 coastal NC counties and one SC county with boggy, swampy coastal plains. It catches its prey, spiders and insects, by snapping shut the spiky parts of its leaves once the tiny hairs inside ("trigger hairs") are set off by the insect’s movement. 

Unfortunately, this plant is highly poached and because of this – plus fire suppression and habitat loss – it has dramatically declined in its native range. It is under review to be added to the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  You should only buy it from reputable buyers who have cultivated, rather than poached it. And if you see it in stores, you should never “tease” the plant by triggering it to close up. 

Here’s some interesting details from Wikipedia about how the plant got its name:


The plant's common name (originally "Venus's flytrap") refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The genus name, Dionaea ("daughter of Dione"), refers to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, while the species name, muscipula, is Latin for both "mousetrap" and "flytrap".[7][8] The Latin word muscipula ("mousetrap") is derived from mus("mouse") and decipula ("trap"), while the homonym word muscipula ("flytrap") is derived from musca ("fly") and decipula ("trap").[9][10][8]

Historically, the plant was also known by the slang term "tipitiwitchet" or "tippity twitchet", possibly an oblique reference to the plant's resemblance to human female genitalia.[7][11] The term is similar to the term tippet-de-witchet which derives from tippet and witchet (archaic term for vagina).[12][13] In contrast, the English botanist John Ellis, who gave the plant its scientific name in 1768, wrote that the plant name tippitywichit was an indigenous word from either Cherokee or Catawba.[8][14] The plant name according to the Handbook of American Indians derives from the Renape word titipiwitshik ("they (leaves) which wind around (or involve)").[15][16]

When I quilted this piece, I outlined everything in black thread for a graphic, cartoon-y look, and then I added echo quilting around the leaves to give it a sense that the plant was moving. I can’t figure out if the plants look scary and ominous, or if they are laughing. Maybe both?