June 15, 2021
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Frequently Asked Questions


What are carnivorous plants?
How do carnivorous plants catch their prey?
How many species of carnivorous plants are there?
How do I view the files in the archives?
Can I collect carnivorous plants from the wild?
Can carnivorous plants be grown outside?
Are there any risks associated with the handling of sphagnum moss?



What are carnivorous plants?
Carnivorous plants are plants that typically grow in places where the soil is poor in nutrients such as wet, acidic bogs. They have adapted to derive some of their nutrients from trapping and consuming small animals such as insects, spiders, or even mice and rats. Other species have evolved to capture small water-living invertebrates and protozoans.


How do carnivorous plants catch their prey?
There are five basic trapping mechanisms found in carnivorous plants.

  1. Pitfall traps: Pitfall traps trap prey in cup-like leaves, which fill with rainwater and the digestive enzymes produced by the plant. The prey falls in and drowns since it can not climb back out due to the slippery surface or downward pointing hairs inside the leaf.
  2. Flypaper traps: The leaves of these plants consist of glands covered with a sticky substance that looks like nectar. When an insect lands on the leaf it gets stuck in the sticky "dew" where it eventually dies.
  3. Snap traps: A Venus Flytrap's snap trap suddenly closes when trigger hairs are stimulated by an insect trapping it inside like a mouse-trap.
  4. Bladder traps: Bladder traps have small openings with a door-like structure. They suck in prey with a bladder that generates an internal vacuum.
  5. Lobster-pot traps: Lobster-pot traps capture their prey as they are easy to enter, but difficult to leave due to directional hairs inside the trap.


How many species of carnivorous plants are there?
There are more than 630 identified species of carnivorous plants. And over 300 protocarnivorous plant species. A protocarnivorous plant or borderline carnivore traps and kills insects or other animals but lacks the ability to either directly digest or absorb nutrients from its prey like a carnivorous plant.


How do I view the files in the archives?
Files are stored in the archives using several formats; PDF (Portable Document Format), DOC (Mircrosoft Word Format), and PTT (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation Format). If you are having trouble viewing any of these files their are a number of free document readers available such as:

  1. For PDF Files: Adobe Reader
  2. For DOC Files: Microsoft Word Viewer
  3. For PTT Files: Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer


Can I collect carnivorous plants from the wild?
There are so few carnivorous plant sites left in the wild that any field collecting only serves to contributes to their endangerment. In most places it is also illegal with heavy fines for poachers. Carnivorous plants have been in cultivation for many years and can be easily found from any number of plant nurseries. If you encounter carnivorous plants growing in the wild take only photographs.


Can carnivorous plants be grown outside?
Many carnivorous plants are tropical plants that like to summer outside. These plants benefit greatly from being moved outside once the weather warms up in spring (watch the nighttime temps!) and will reward you with some amazing and beautiful growth. Of course you have to be careful when moving a plant from it's winter home inside to the out of doors, slowly getting the plant used to the low humidity, wind and sun. Start by putting the plant outside on overcast or even rainy days, and over a period of a few weeks slowly get the plant used to the midday sun. Usually dappled shade (the light from under a tree with leaves and branches up high) is best for the plants. With care, many can eventually take full sun for part of most of the day.

Watering is VERY important for the tropicals outside, and most if not all of them like to be watered every day. It is virtually impossible to overwater a plant that is summering outside. Some of the plants such as tropical sundews prefer to be sitting in a tray of water constantly. Nepenthes (Tropical Pitcher Plants) do well in a hanging pot or on decks, and like to be watered every day but not left sitting in a tray of water. Plants will need to be taken in before the cold weather arrives (again, watch the night time temps) and will often slow down in growth over the winter. But they can provide a wonderful display for many months of the year outside.


Are there any risks associated with the handling of sphagnum moss?
Sporotrichosis is a disease caused by the infection of the fungus Sporothrix schenckii which is naturally found in sphagnum moss, hay, soil, and some plants. It can enter through small cuts and abrasions in the skin.

The first symptom of sporotrichosis is a firm bump (nodule) on the skin that can range in color from pink to nearly purple. The nodule is usually painless or only mildly tender. Over time, the nodule may develop an open sore (ulcer) that may drain clear fluid. Untreated, the nodule and the ulcer become chronic and may remain unchanged for years.

In very rare cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, joints, lungs, and brain. This is more common among those with a weakened immune system. It can be difficult to treat and may be life threatening.

You can reduce your risk of sporotrichosis by wearing protective clothing such as gloves and long sleeves when handling wires, rose bushes, bales of hay, pine seedlings, or other materials that may cause minor cuts or punctures in the skin. It is also advisable to avoid skin contact with sphagnum moss.

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