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May 07, 2021
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New England Carnivorous Plant Society

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"The mission of the New England Carnivorous Plant Society shall be to share, to gain knowledge of, and to achieve expertise in all phases of growing, education, appreciation, and conservation of carnivorous plants in both culture and in native habitats."

AnnouncementsWhat's New
NECPS May meeting

The May meeting of the NECPS will be held on May 15th at Bigelow Hollow State Park, 298 Bigelow Hollow Rd, Union, CT at 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM (Directions).

Matt apologizes but due to Covid-19 restrictions he will not be able to provide a tour of the Greenhouses this year. Instead, he will offer a bog walk to Breakneck Pond

Bigelow Hollow State Park, 298 Bigelow Hollow Rd, Union, CT 06076. There is a small fee for out-of-state cars.

Gather at dirt parking lot by the wooden cabin just east of the East Ridge Trailhead parking lot.

Follow the paved main park road 0.6 mile from the entrance to Bigelow Hollow State Park. Assemble at the dirt parking area by a wooden cabin, on the right-hand side, where the road makes a sharp left turn. Additional parking is nearby if the lot is full.

Hike to Breakneck Pond to see Drosera rotundifolia, D. spatulata, Utricularia species and Sarracenia purpurea. It is about a four-mile walk, round trip, to see the best sites. Half of the walk is an easy stroll on gravel wood roads, and half is moderate difficulty on uneven, rocky lakeside trails. No wading or significant trips off-trail are needed to see the CPs. Wear good walking shoes and bring insect repellant, trail snacks and water. Some nice plants are at a distance from shore out in the pond growing on stumps, and it is possible there will be wildlife such as Bald Eagles in the area, so consider packing camera equipment and binoculars.

Less adventurous visitors can see sundews, but not pitcher plants, along the easy and very well-traveled trails near the boat launch on Bigelow Pond.

Looking to Spice Up Your Plant Shelf? Carnivorous Plants are the Answer

I've noticed a trend with my friends in the past year: Bloodsucking creatures are popping up on their windowsills.

But this isn't some Anne Rice novel brought to life-the "creatures" are pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts, and, of course, Venus flytraps. Carnivorous plants are gaining popularity because they're the perfect pandemic pets that won't have you racked with guilt when you return to your office.

"Houseplants are even more of a thing than they were before the pandemic," says Jena Lee, an art appraiser living in Los Angeles's Echo Park neighborhood, who grows the pitcher plants known as Sarracenia purpurea, or Carolina Yellow Jacket, as well as Venus flytraps, sourced from Artemisia Nursery. "Plants give people something to focus on and care for while also improving the overall aesthetic and vibe of their home. Carnies [a common nickname for carnivorous plants among fans] require more attention than your average houseplant, but also provide a bit of macabre entertainment."

For Michael Szesze , a retired science teacher who owns Carnivorous Plant Nursery in Smithsburg, Maryland, the trend toward carnivorous plants has provided a sales bump during the pandemic. "We have had a nice increase in interest and sales of our carnivorous plants," he says. "Some folks do mention COVID cabin fever, but more express interest in these curious plants. The whole notion of plants with an attitude that actually are adapted to our human sense of the weird drives many hobbyists."

Read the Full Article Here

One-fourth of carnivorous plant species at risk of extinction, study finds

Swimming across a crocodile-filled river full and dodging venomous snakes in search of rare carnivorous plants is all in a day's work for Dr. Adam Cross, restoration ecologist at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. Cross conducts much of his fieldwork in Western Australia's Kimberley region, where he sidesteps deadly wildlife and endures broiling 104-degree Fahrenheit temperatures in suffocating humidity in search of elusive carnivorous plants.

A quarter of the world's 860 known carnivorous plant species are at risk of extinction as a result of climate change and threats like land clearing and poaching, according to a study Cross and his colleagues recently published in Global Ecology and Conservation.

Carnivorous plants are unique because they gain nutrients from prey. They mostly lure and eat insects, though some can also derive nutrients from small animals. The popular Venus flytrap is a well-known example, luring small insects such as flies to its open leaves with a sweet nectar scent; once the fly brushes up against a trigger hair, Venus snaps the leaves shut, trapping the fly, which it then dissolves with digestive enzymes.

Sensitive and specialized, carnivorous plants typically grow in "nutrient-impoverished habitats where carnivory offers a competitive advantage," according to the Cross report.

"Carnivorous plants, more so than almost any other group of plant, occupy extremely narrow ecological niches because carnivory is basically a strategy that has evolved to allow plants to be competitive in typically nutrient-poor soils and in habitats where other plants often find it very challenging to be competitive," Cross says.

Read the Full Article Here

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Have an idea for a presentation or demonstration? If there is a meeting or other event that the NECPS will be participating in, or some other carnivorous plant related news item that you would like to share? Please forward the information to the Webmaster so that it can be included here.

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Membership Dues are payable at or before the January meeting.

New protein helps carnivorous plants sense and trap their prey

The brush of an insect's wing is enough to trigger a Venus flytrap to snap shut, but the biology of how these plants sense and respond to touch is still poorly understood, especially at the molecular level. Now, a new study by Salk and Scripps Research scientists identifies what appears to be a key protein involved in touch sensitivity for flytraps and other carnivorous plants.

The findings, published < b>March 16, 2021, in the journal eLife, help explain a critical process that has long puzzled botanists. This could help scientists better understand how plants of all kinds sense and respond to mechanical stimulation, and could also have a potential application in medical therapies that mechanically stimulate human cells such as neurons.

"We know that plants sense touch," says co-corresponding author Joanne Chory, director of Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory and holder of the Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology. "The Venus flytrap, which has a very fast response to touch, provides an opportunity to study a sensory modality that historically has been poorly understood."

Scientists have long been fascinated by Venus flytraps and carnivorous plants; Charles Darwin devoted an entire book to them. But while previous studies have looked at the structural mechanism of their bizarre leaves, not much is known about how they work at the cellular level. That's partly because flytraps are challenging to study. They're extremely slow to grow, and the flytrap genome had not been sequenced until recently, opening the door for deeper genetic research.

Read the Full Article Here

Five Things You Didn't Know About Venus Flytraps

1. They are native only to North and South Carolina.

While Venus flytraps have been planted and naturalized in other areas, they only occur naturally within a 75-mile radius around Wilmington, North Carolina. This area is primarily in North Carolina, but it also includes a few South Carolina counties.

2. The Venus flytrap is the only species in its genus.

For this reason, it's called a monotypic genus. "It used to be in its own family, too, Dionaeaceae," said Jeffries. However, taxonomists have recently decided it's closely related to sundews, making it part of the Droseraceae family.

3. They don't waste energy on false alarms.

The "traps" are two-lobed leaves with hair-like extensions for sensing prey. They'll only close if two hairs are touched in succession, within seconds of each other. This way, the plants don't close for false alarms. "No need to expend energy on a random bit of debris or a raindrop," said Jeffries. When the traps do close, digestive juices are released to break down the insect inside.

4. They rarely trap their pollinators

Venus flytraps consume insects, but this doesn't mean they trap their pollinators. NC State scientists Elsa Youngsteadt, assistant professor of applied ecology, and Clyde Sorenson, professor of entomology, collaborated with other conservation scientists to study this issue.

The researchers found that the flowers sit six to 10 inches above the trap-like leaves, which are close to the ground. The plants are pollinated by flying insects, but they mostly consume crawling insects

5. Their greatest threat is habitat loss.

"Venus flytraps live in the wet, open longleaf pine savannas, which need frequent fires to keep the stands open," said Jeffries. Without frequent fire, trees and shrubs begin to grow in these habitats, blocking smaller plants like the Venus flytrap from the sun they need. On top of this, longleaf pine forests only occupy 3% of their former extensive range throughout the Coastal Plain.

Poaching is also a problem, and Venus flytraps are considered a "Species of Special Concern" in North Carolina. While it has always been illegal to poach them, a change in state laws made it a felony in 2014. However, Venus flytraps still lack the protection of threatened and endangered species.

Read the Full Article Here

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