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If you cut a flower off a Venus flytrap, will it feel pain? Or does the plant have no feelings no matter what you do? This is related to the question of whether plants can feel any sensation, and it is an interesting and hotly debated topic. In this post we will look at the latest findings on this subject.
Venus flytraps do not have pain receptors so they cannot feel pain. But through pressure sensors, the plant becomes aware when it is being touched or there is something in its trap.
Do Venus Flytraps Feel Pain When You Cut Them?
The topic of pain is closely linked to sentience, consciousness, awareness and feelings. And it is difficult for us to imagine that Venus flytraps can be aware of what is happening and not feel anything. But that is the case not just with flytraps, but all plants.
Studies have shown that plants like Venus flytraps do not possess pain receptors or a nervous system. Without these, a plant cannot experience pain, suffering or any sensation.
Touch a leaf on a Venus flytrap and it folds. The plant can detect it is being touched, and it has an organ called pulvinus that responds to touch by folding.
A Venus flytrap, like all plants, respond to stimuli. But plants cannot feel pain the way animals do because they do not have the mechanisms that will enable them to experience it.
If you trim a Venus flytrap, it will become aware of this. But it does not cause suffering or any kind of emotion. It is aware of the damage but does not care.
How Animals Feel Pain (And Why Venus Flytraps Cannot)
Humans and animals have a nervous system, neurochemicals and receptors that enable them to experience pain and suffering. Mammals feel pain in different ways, but they all have these physical characteristics that make it possible.
Let us take a human being for example. If you bump your head, the pain receptors transmit a signal through the nervous system to the brain. The brain generates the sensation of pain.
That is a simplified explanation of how humans and animals experience pain. There are differences of course, but generally the process is the same.
Venus flytraps do not have brains that can produce that feeling. They do not have pain receptors or a nervous system where these signals can be relayed.
Venus flytraps and all plants cannot feel other emotions like joy, sadness, happiness, anger etc. When you feed athe plant with TruBlu Venus Flytrap Food, it does not feel full or satisfied the way animals do when they feed. Carnivorous plants consume their prey as part of a natural response to stimuli.
Are Venus Flytraps Aware When It is Being Harmed?
Venus flytraps can sense if one of its leaves is being cut or eaten, and it sends electrical signals to the other leaves to defend themselves. The plant is aware of what is happening, but it is not cognizant and has no emotional reaction to it.
Cognition and awareness are two different things. Awareness is being able to sense what is going around the environment and itself. Cognition is related to thoughts, being able to decide and and gain knowledge.
To put it another way, Venus flytraps are alive but they are not conscious. A plant will try to respond if its leaves are being cut, so it is aware of what is happening. But it does not experience any physical or emotional suffering.
The reason why some people think Venus flytraps (and plants in general) can feel is its response to an attack. If you cut a leaf or an animal starts eating it, the leaf being attacked sends out a distress signal to other leaves.
These electrical signals reach the entire plant, and they produce chemicals or other means for protection. To us, this seems like the actions of a sentient being that is fighting for survival.
However there is no evidence to prove plants are cognizant of the damage. They are aware but it does not imply they undergo pain.
Damage and pain are not the same thing. A computer can suffer damage but it does not feel pain. Venus flytraps will be damaged if you cut the flowers, trim it or a trap dies off. But it does not follow the plant senses pain.
Humans have nociceptors that allow us to respond to pain. Plants do not have that. What they have are sensors that trigger the trap in case a prey lands in it. But these sensors respond to stimuli specifically for the traps and not pain.
Can Venus Flytraps Feel?
You can force a Venus flytrap to close using electric shock, but it will not get hurt. The plant can sense it but will not feel anything.
This is similar to feeding a Venus flytrap with dead bugs. If you give the plant Appetizing Mealworms Freeze Dried Crickets for instance, the trap will not close. It needs something to trigger the hair sensors twice in a 20 second span to close the trap.
If you press the trap lobes with a stick, it will shut and digest the mealworms. But if you do not, the trap will remain open.
A Venus flytrap does not feel joy any more than it feels pain. When it closes the trap and starts the digestive process, it is in response to the stimulus.
To summarize the key points:
- Venus flytraps are alive, but they are not sentient or conscious.
- They react to stimuli but are not cognizant.
- They are aware of damage but do not feel pain.
- Venus flytraps can count and possess short term memories.
- They can communicate with other plants through electrical signals, but do not have feelings like animals do.
The ability of plants to communicate with each other is the reason why some believe they are conscious in some way. If plants can send signals to other plants without a neural system, who is to say they are not cognizant?
While Venus flytrap continue to exhibit amazing abilities to detect prey, catch food and respond to their surroundings, the scientific community maintains there is no evidence proving plants are sentient.
While Venus flytraps cannot feel, they can still be harmed. So make sure you take are of the plant and by ensuring it gets enough sunlight and food. One way to ensure the plants are nourished is to give it enough food.
Can Venus Flytraps Count?
Venus flytraps have memories and can count. Its trap only closes if the hair sensors are triggered twice within 20 seconds, proving the plant can remember and count.
Short term memory and the ability to count are necessary for the plant to survive. Each trap can shut about 5 times before dying. If it closes every time something lands on the trap, it will die off before ever having had the opportunity to catch anything.
These characteristics are so similar to other living things that it makes the plant seem conscious. But what happens is Venus flytraps rely on pressure receptors to detect prey, if it is being touched, cut etc. and what action to take.
When a bug lands in one of its traps, the plant does not immediately fold the leaves. If the bug struggles a lot and sets off the sensors again and again, it will squeeze the trap shut.
If the bug is too small and fails to activate the sensors, the leaves will open. Venus flytraps use plenty of energy to digest food, and it will not waste resources on a small insect with very little nutrients.
This is where you can see the importance of being able to count comes in. It literally means the difference between wasting its traps and getting enough nutrients from insects.
The prevailing consensus in the scientific community is that plants are living things but do not feel pain. But even so, you should care for your Venus flytraps because they do become aware of damage to them.
My fascination with carnivorous plants began many, many years ago with Venus Fly Traps. Now I am more than happy to impart what I know with other enthusiasts and those who are curious about meat eating plants.