Skip to content

The opposite of vegetarianism

July 12, 2010

You may not know it, but southeastern North Carolina is something of a hotspot for those most botanically bizarre species, the carnivorous plants.  It has to do with the nutrient-poor soils that predominate in the swamps and sandy plains along the southern coast and into northern South Carolina.  It’s a noteworthy distinction, one I admit I never knew about at all before noting a Venus Fly-trap Trail at Carolina Beach State Park during my 2008 North Carolina big year.  The State Park is a great place to find Painted Buntings, and I intended to make it back at some point to scope out that trail where one can find the most charismatic of bug-eating plants.

The last day of my wife’s and my mini-vacation to the Wilmington area I thought I had that opportunity.  I let my wife sleep in and headed down to Carolina Beach with the intention to walk the short trail and find some Fly-traps.  Thought I had my eyes on the ground, a birder is still a birder, and the hot weather notwithstanding, there were still a small handful of species around.  No Painted Buntings sadly, but several Brown-headed Nuthatches foraging near the ground in open Slash Pine forest.  A scene that couldn’t be more southern if I were enjoying a mint julep at the time.

For such a widely-known and cultivated species, wild populations of Venus Fly-traps are extremely range restricted and only found within 60 miles of Wilmington, North Carolina.  While I’d hoped to easily discover the small plants in the sandy soil, they’re apparently far more difficult to find this late in the summer when their tall flower stalks have since wilted.  That’s the long way of saying I was unlucky this time.  Not was I fortunate enough to come across some of the other carnivorous species in the area, like the Sundew or the flashy Purple Pitcher Plant.

I did, however, find a nice stand of Yellow Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia flava), which at nearly 18 inches tall, is far easier to find than the others, and equally cool with a subtle gape that hides death for unlucky flies.  So it was far from a total bust.

I’m not going to abandon bird finding for plant finding anytime soon, but when the bird activity is suppressed due to the soaring sticky humidity of the southern summer it’s a nice thing to which to turn, even if the plant of the hour proved difficult to track down.  I only wish the horticultural haps in the Piedmont were as exciting as they are down here.  There’s a serious lack of blood-thirsty plants to be found most other places.

Also worth nothing was the successful addition of New Hanover County to my list of North Carolina counties in which I’ve seen 100 species of birds.  The 7th such county since I began keeping track.  Only 93 more to go!

  1. July 12, 2010 5:43 pm

    Great pictures of the carnivorous pitcher plants! At 18″ tall they definitely would be some of the easiest carnivorous plants to find…

  2. Nate permalink*
    July 12, 2010 9:52 pm

    @John- Thanks! Considering how tiny Fly-traps and Sundew are (both no more than 4 inches) I had my work cut out for me. It was nice to have at least one species that is easily picked out.

  3. Julie permalink
    July 13, 2010 6:59 am

    On my visits back to NC I always head to my favorite spot in the Alligator River Refuge to check out a nice stand of Sarracina flava. This most recent trip there were also sundews, one in bloom with its tiny white flower.
    Although both are common, seeing them always makes my day.

    Cheers J

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: