The Venus fly-trap caused serious problems for the traditional theory of the Great Chain of Being. The idea of the Great Chain suggested that all of creation was arranged in a rigidly hierarchical system, with God at the top and all living and nonliving things descending below (for example):
“In the Dionaea muscipula there is a still more wonderful contrivance to prevent the depredations of insects; the leaves are armed with long teeth, like the antennae of insects, and lie spread upon the ground round the stem; and are so irritable, that when an insect creeps upon them, they fold up, and crush or pierce it to death” (Botanic Garden, “Loves of the Plants,” I, 19, illustration, above)
“Of vegetable animation”: “The fibres of the vegetable world, as well as those of the animal, are excitable into a variety of motions by irritations of external objects. This appears . . . [in] the Dionaea muscipula, which was lately brought over from the marshes of America” (Zoonomia, I, 73).