Biomagnetism measured in Venus Flytraps

Upon stimulation, plants elicit electrical signals that can travel within a cellular network analogous to the animal nervous system. It is well-known that in the human brain, voltage changes in certain regions result from concerted electrical activity which, in the form of action potentials (APs), travels within nerve-cell arrays. Electro- and magnetophysiological techniques like electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, and magnetic resonance imaging are used to record this activity and to diagnose disorders. Here we demonstrate that APs in a multicellular plant system produce measurable magnetic fields. Using atomic optically pumped magnetometers, biomagnetism associated with electrical activity in the carnivorous Venus flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, was recorded. Action potentials were induced by heat stimulation and detected both electrically and magnetically. Furthermore, the thermal properties of ion channels underlying the AP were studied. Beyond proof of principle, our findings pave the way to understanding the molecular basis of biomagnetism in living plants. In the future, magnetometry may be used to study long-distance electrical signaling in a variety of plant species, and to develop noninvasive diagnostics of plant stress and disease.

Heliamphora ( Sun Pitchers )

Heliamphora ( Sun Pitchers )
Sept 2019
Sept 2019
June 2018 Heliamphora minor

These grow on the mountains in Venezuela where they receive lots of sun, humidity, water and cool temperatures, which drop significantly at night. All of which makes them a challenging plant to grow. I’ve slaughtered many.

First discovered in 1839 by explorers there are many species. The mountains are flat topped and widely separated leading to many similar, but different plants.

These are carnivores, but use a bacteria in the pitcher fluid to break down the insects instead of producing their own enzymes. There was and is an ongoing debate as to how carnivorous they are.

Outside through the Houston fall-winter-spring they do very well. It’s too warm in the summer for Heliamphoras to be outside. I have two growing quite well in terrariums, one on a windowsill that gets lots of morning light, one in a niche that has a light directly over the terrarium.

Humidity seems to override all other things when growing Sun Pitchers. Bright light is next and like all carnivorous plants distilled water is best. I’ve not found a daily temperature change to be important for growing, it might be for flowering? Every time I’ve removed it from the terrarium it’s begun to die back, starting by browning at the top edge of the pitchers.

Nepenthes Coccinea

Nepenthes rafflesiana x ampullaria x mirabilis

This is one of those plants that was every where and now is very difficult to track down. It was loved by the Victorians. Scientific American had a story on it in 1882. The only seller I’ve found is Lee’s Botanical Gardens, if anyone knows of any other sources please let me know. I’d hate for this plant to vanish.

I find it likes a mostly shady window with about an hour or two of direct sun. Like all my neps this one is growing in an orchid basket filled with sphagnum and sitting in a dish with an 1″ or so of distilled water.

It is an American hybrid which made its way across to England and the rest of Europe. I’m told it started the Nepenthes craze that followed.

I had a bit of a time getting it settled in the house, it likes humidity but is far too large to fit in a terrarium. Most so since its a climber.

I’ve also been told there is more than one version of Nep. Coccinea around. I was unable to adapt the other version to windowsill life.

Nepenthes Kat Lester

I find this is much like a Mirabilis, that’s almost certainly in its parentage. Keep it warm, not too much light, and slowly adapt it to the windowsill. They seem to need high humidity while they are young. Pitchers vary from green to red on the same plant. It sends up lots of basil shoots and prefers hanging to climbing. There are often a dozen pitchers on the plant.

Lee’s Botanicals cultivated this plant, I think they may be the only source. I’ve not been able to find any other mention of it.

Nepenthes Truncata

Test tube babies Feb 2018

Oct 2020
Nepenthes Truncata at PetFlyTrap.com

Nepenthes truncata gets its name from the square ending of the leaf before the pitcher. It is native to all of the Philippines where it grows in the hilly areas close to sea level. Pitchers can reach 16″ long. A botanical garden in France recorded it eating a mouse. I’m told it loves to eat wasps.

I had been growing it under a fluorescent light and on a windowsill. It’s now in a very bright south western window and it appears to love the sun much more than my other Nepenthes. A grower in Italy reports it can handle highland temps, I’m not sure I’d risk trying it.

The first reference to it I could find was in the 1911 Pennsylvania Botanical Society meeting notes.

I found mine from a seller of test tube plants on eBay.