Local

Program will pack plant information in a snap

By Steve Palisin

spalisin@thesunnews.com

A Venus flytrap sits wide open while growing in the Museum of Coastal Carolina’s carnivorous plant garden. The museum, in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., will welcome Mark Todd from the North American Sarracenia Conservancy for a program on southeastern North Carolina’s native species of carnivorous plants – including Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews – at 11 a.m. Saturday.
A Venus flytrap sits wide open while growing in the Museum of Coastal Carolina’s carnivorous plant garden. The museum, in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., will welcome Mark Todd from the North American Sarracenia Conservancy for a program on southeastern North Carolina’s native species of carnivorous plants – including Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews – at 11 a.m. Saturday. Courtesy photo

The flytraps in Mark Todd’s care don’t resemble anything like Audrey II, the monster flytrap-like plant voiced by late Four Tops’ lead singer Levi Stubbs in the movie remake of “Little Shop of Horrors,” from 1986.

Todd, the conservation director for, and a founding board member of, the North American Sarracenia Conservancy (www.nasarracenia.org), will discuss southeastern North Carolina’s native species of carnivorous plants – including Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews – in a program at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Museum of Coastal Carolina, in Ocean Isle Beach.

This forum is for all ages, too. Children will be taught how to care for a Venus flytrap – designated the N.C. state carniverous plant in 2005 – and bring one home.

Fielding a call Wednesday, with birds singing in the background, Todd shared some tidbits about his fondness for these types of flora. He also said at home, he has probably “a couple of hundred” pitcher plants and Venus flytraps.

Question | What’s the significance of the North American Sarracenia Conservancy’s name?

Answer | It includes the scientific name of the American pitcher plant.

Q. | How did you passion for carnivorous plants take root in your life?

A. | I’ve always been interested in carnivorous plants, such as the Venus flytrap. When I was younger, I lived in the area where they grow. When I was 12, my mother actually bought one, and I would feed it leaves, and find some insects to put in there.

Q. | What is the range, outside of the patch along the N.C. coast, for Venus flytraps growing in natural settings?

A. | Historically, it used to go to about Georgetown. ... There are some in the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, near Conway; that’s probably as far south as I saw. Also, in the Croatan National Forest, near New Bern.

Q. | How many flytrap types exist in this area crossing this corner of the Carolinas?

A. | There’s roughly 20 species native here.

Q. | What do carnivorous plants consume?

A. | Bladderworts: They eat small microbes in the water. Venus flytraps eat bugs. Pitcher plants normally eat bugs, but I have seen photos of a bird in a pitcher plant.

Q. | What is the typical growing season in this region for such plants?

A. | Pitcher plants start blooming in early April, and Venus flytraps around May, and blooms could be there all year. ... They’re easy to care for. They are very low maintenance, because you can throw them outside and they grow. Usually, they like the temperature around 80-90 degrees, and in the winter, they can withstand going down below freezing.

Q. | What are carnivorous plants’ range in height, never mind the character in “Little Shop of Horrors”?

A. | Pitcher plants can reach 4 feet, and the shortest pitcher plant is a few inches.

Q. | What colors are dominant?

A. | There are different varieties; they can be green, red, purple, yellow, and they can have stripes on them.

Q. | What’s the biggest surprise you see in people’s reactions about carnivorous plants as you carry out education programs at museums and festivals?

A. | Most people think they don’t grow here, but are grown somewhere else. North Carolina is one of the best places for carnivorous plants in the world.

Q. | With the flytraps that youngsters will take home from the museum on Saturday, what will likely result, with the right care?

A. | It will be a full plant given to them. It probably can get up to a foot tall, in maybe 2-3 years.

Q. | In what other way might flytraps merit an addition in people’s homes?

A. | Most people don’t like insects; you just tell them they eat insects.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.

If you go

WHAT: Program on southeastern North Carolina’s native species of carnivorous plants – including Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews –with Mark Todd, conservation director for, and a founding board member of, North American Sarracenia Conservancy.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: Museum of Coastal Carolina, 21 E. Second St., Ocean Isle Beach.

HOW MUCH: Free with admission – $9 ages 13-61, $8 ages 62 and older, $7 ages 3-12, and free ages 2 and younger.

MUSEUM OPEN: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays through May 21, before expanding for summertime schedule, May 27-Sept. 5: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturdays.

OTHER PROGRAMS: All free with admission –

▪ “Touch Tank Feeding,” 11 a.m. Fridays.

▪ At 11 a.m. Saturdays – “Take Mom for a Walk” on May 14, and “Odyssey of the Sea Turtle” May 21.

ALSO:

▪ “Operation Paperclip” lecture, with Brett Riggs, historian discussing the extrication of scientists from Germany by U.S. intelligence and military services during and after World War II, 6 p.m. May 10. Free with admission.

▪  “Ocean Isle Memories” exhibit of paintings by John Ross Palmer of Texas, through Sept. 5, in museum’s Coastal Gallery.

INFORMATION: 910-579-1016 or www.museumplanetarium.org

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