Investigating the Carolina coast’s native plant: Venus flytrap

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) —  It’s a stiff fine that had some people scratching their heads. A Bolivia man being held under a $750,000 bond. His alleged crime was
poaching dozens of Venus flytraps.

“Tourists from other states specifically come to see this bucket list item– the Venus flytrap,” said Carolina Beach State Park Superintendent Chris Helms.

The Venus flytrap is one of the most widely recognized plants around the world and it’s native only to the Carolina coast.

“Venus flytraps are a carnivorous plant,” said Helms. “They do eat insects and it’s basically a supplement to their diet. They still do photosynthesize and can still get energy from the sun and make plants and sugars.”

Helms says some people keep wild pets, while others enjoy tending to wild plants. Plus, there’s an underground market for them.

“No where else in the world do you find this plant growing in the wild except that 70 mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina,” said Helms.  “While you can still buy them legally, I believe there is still a poaching trade… a black market trade.”

Poaching the rare plant became a Class H felony in 2014. One of the 8 trails at the park is focused on the exotic Venus flytrap so they face the challenge of keeping the plant safe from poachers.

“A lot of our visitors and hikers serve as our extra eyes and ears for helping to protect this plant because it is truly an amazing plant for southeastern North Carolina,” said Helms. “It is unfortunate that even with the tight rules that the legislation has passed to make this a felony that it is still happening.”

If you’re interested in learning more information about the Venus flytrap, Carolina Beach State Park hosts guided tours every Saturday and Sunday morning.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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