In a mere tenth of a second, without any muscles, a Venus flytrap's jawlike leaves can imprison a hapless insect. Since the time of Charles Darwin, scientists have struggled to understand this feat.
In the Jan. 27 Nature, researchers offer a possible explanation: With its peculiar leaf geometry, the flytrap Dionaea muscipula achieves fast, springlike action that's usually off-limits to plant tissue.
Plant motions are typically slow, notes study coauthor Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan of Harvard University, a mathematician who specializes in mechanics. Many botanical movements take place as plants' internal plumbing systems gradually redistribute water among cel