Brunswick County -
Home to the Rare Venus Flytrap
Dana M. Thayer
in the United States
Brunswick County, North
Carolina is no stranger to rare plants. In fact, the greatest number
of rare plant species in the state can be found in Brunswick County.
One particular plant of interest is the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea
muscipula). Though Venus Flytraps are known worldwide, the
carnivorous plant is a native grower only in the Carolinas.
The Venus Flytrap is one of
the most fascinating plants known to man. This carnivorous plant has
the unusual ability to trap animal prey. When hair-like trichomes
are brushed against by prey, the Flytrap is triggered to snap shut.
The hairs are so specialized that it "knows" the difference between
prey and raindrops. Once closed, the lobes secrete digestion enzymes
which break down the prey into nutrients which are absorbed. After
about ten days, the trap reopens. This keen trait allows the
Venus Flytrap to thrive in areas
where the soil lacks key nutrients.
Of course, not everyone
understands how the Venus Flytrap catches its prey. And over time
our imaginations have invented fictional plant characters which
terrorize and devour like the monstrous Audrey II in the musical
Little Shop of Horrors. The classic video game Super Mario Bros.
includes creatures similar to Venus Flytraps which emerge from pipes
to damage the player. There are many others.
But these villains are very
poor representations of the actual plant, because the Flytrap
doesn't pose a danger to people at all – in fact, we've been a
danger to it! With all this interest, the Venus Flytrap has become a
novelty houseplant, and that has led to some poachers seizing them
from the wild for commercial sale.
in St. James Plantation
Brunswick County, North Carolina
Fortunately, the US Fish and
Wildlife Service has included the Venus Flytrap as a "federal
species of concern" for Brunswick County. The Venus Flytrap is
legally protected under the North Carolina Plant Protection and
Conservation Act. Fines of $50 per Flytrap can be issued if poachers
are caught in the act.
To further protect Flytraps,
The Nature Conservancy has combined forces with the State
Department of Agriculture to launch a sting operation. By painting
these plants with a special orange dye that is absorbed by the plant
and which will glow under ultra-violet light, inspectors hope to
track the stolen plants when they show up in nurseries.
Nature Trail in
Boiling Spring Lakes
Brunswick County, North Carolina
People in the Brunswick County
area are lucky, though. No such covert methods are necessary to
enjoy the mysterious beauty of the Venus Flytrap. In 2004, the
Boiling Spring Lakes Nature Trail was completed, allowing visitors
to walk through a portion of the preserve and see the delicate
plants first hand, while still protecting the Flytraps natural
habitat. With over six thousand acres in size, The Boiling Spring
Lakes Preserve is located in Brunswick County, NC in the city of
Boiling Spring Lakes just off Highway 87. The trail begins at
the Community Center. The Nature Trail is a joint effort of The
Nature Conservancy, the City of Boiling Spring Lakes, and the North
Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Plant
Conservation Program. The trail furthers the Nature Conservancy's
mission to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that
represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and
waters they need to survive. More information can be found by
visiting the Nature Conservancy online at
www.nature.org or calling the
Nature Conservancy's Wilmington Office at (910) 762-6277.
2007. All Rights Reserved.