The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: Where do plants being sold in stores come from?

Sarracenia leucophylla
Sarracenia leucophylla

Sarracenia purpurea
Sarracenia purpurea

Dionaea muscipula
Dionaea muscipula
A: It depends a little on the venue. Most of the carnivorous plants that I see in stores in the USA are sundews (usually Drosera capensis), Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula), and cobra lilies (Darlingtonia californica).

The sundews are South African, and reproduce so rapidly by seed or tissue culture, they are clearly propagated artificially (and legally).

The Venus flytrap clones are also almost certainly from tissue culture. I can say this because over the last several years I have noticed a subtle shift in the retail Venus flytraps---most are specimens of a cultivar called Dionaea 'Dentate Traps.' Clearly these are plants of horticultural origin.

The fact that Darlingtonia californica plants are sold in stores is an embarrassment to the nursery trade. These plants are extremely difficult to grow; the only reason you can get them in stores is that they reproduce well in tissue culture. All those plants in the stores are destined to slowly die within several months. How can these horticulture companies make money, knowing they are only selling disappointment?

But all the previous is just related to the plants I see in California. I understand that there is still a vigorous trade in illegally collected Venus flytraps, even though there are stiff fines for field collection in North Carolina. Some of these stores are suppliers for overseas nursery operations.

Because of perceived medicinal values of pitcher plants (Sarracenia), truckloads are taken from the wild and shipped to pharmaceutical firms in Europe. I do not know of any verified value to the compounds being extracted from the plants. Fortunately, no one has decided these plants have any aphrodisiac values, otherwise the collections pressures would mount even higher. Thank the Powers That Be for ensuring Viagra does not derive its efficacy from any of the other erect trumpet pitchers.

The plant sources that I recommend may have plants that are expensive, but they do not field collect their stock. I have no tolerance for those engaged in field collection for profit.

Page citations: Personal observations; reader contributions.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005