Category Archives: News

Sarracenia relocation plans in Florida cancelled

Sarracenia rosea at the site in Pensacola, FL. Photo by Mark Todd.
Sarracenia rosea at the site in Pensacola, FL; staying put. Photo by Mark Todd.

The NASC is happy to report that after conversations with Escambia County, FL environmental management officials and with our understanding of the current status of the properties where the plants would have been sourced from, we are confident that the plants are not under any immediate threat. While the properties do remain for sale and could be developed by the potential new owners, any development on the property must go through rigorous permitting and approval at the county level and we are thoroughly impressed with Escambia County's commitment to the retention of wetlands and threatened and endangered species within them as a public good.

This means, of course, that the great news is that the NASC is confident that the plants will be able to remain on the properties in their original habitat, which is one of our primary goals. Thus the relocation of all of the plants from this site in Pensacola to other nearby preserve lands as planned for January 4-6, 2013 is cancelled.

When we were first planning this rescue, we knew that transplanting 5,000 plants would be a huge undertaking, and with such short notice we worried that we wouldn't have enough volunteers to do the work. Imagine our delight when dozens of volunteers stepped forward, willing to travel from far and wide to save these amazing plants! This would be a relocation and reintroduction mission like nothing ever before.

We are extremely grateful for all the work, effort, and planning that all our volunteers all have done, and we apologize for any inconveniences that this cancellation may have caused. The simple fact that our volunteers were willing to "stand up and be counted" was vital to this effort, and we're happy to have made so many new acquaintances and soon-to-be friends. I think we have sent a strong message, that we care very much about these amazing plants, and that we want to ensure that future generations will be able to see them flourishing in their natural habitat.

Finally, there will always be other opportunities and we certainly have other projects we have been working on concurrently. And we are always looking to add unique genetic lineages to our grower's program for propagation and potential reintroduction. On that point, we're hoping to gain approval from Escambia County to collect a sample of the plants on the properties at Pensacola to enter into our grower's program for rapid propagation by rhizome and genetically pure seed specific to that site. In a few years we would be able to produce enough plants to honor our commitments to the Weeks Bay Foundation and The Nature Conservancy and provide them with plants propagated from stock collected from the original site for their reintroduction efforts in our collaboration with them.

Thank you to all our volunteers, from the bottom of our hearts, once again. We hope everyone has a very happy New Year!

Sarracenia leucophylla

The NASC To Relocate Rare Plants

Sarracenia leucophylla
S. leucophylla at the rescue site. Photo by Mark Todd.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Conservation Group To Relocate Rare Plants

(Pensacola, FL) The North American Sarracenia Conservancy (NASC) has obtained permission from two landowners in Pensacola, Florida to remove several thousand Sarracenia pitcher plants prior to these properties being sold for commercial development. The NASC is looking for volunteers to assist in the removal and relocation of these plants to a nearby preserve.

Sarracenia pitcher plants are found primarily in bogs and it has been speculated more than 95% of the suitable habitat has been destroyed. The NASC feels that it is their responsibility to attempt to save as many of these fascinating plants as possible and maintain distinct genetic populations both by moving plants elsewhere but within a normal pollinators range and also putting some plants into a growing and propagation program offsite.

The NASC is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization. Annually, they have a benefit auction to raise money for this kind of work and to aid in the maintenance and operation of sites containing rare plants. They are looking for volunteers and sponsors to help with this rescue and others like it. Interested parties can become a member or simply donate to this cause on their website: www.nasarracenia.org.

Current plans at this site will take place January 4 - 6, 2013. If you are interested in volunteering in this upcoming rescue please e-mail the NASC’s Director of Conservation, Mark Todd at: [email protected]

Venus Flytrap – A Charismatic…Plant

Southeast Coastal Plain Venus flytrap Sci Fund Challenge video

Project description:

Plants that eat insects exist? They sure do and they are called carnivorous plants! There are many different species of carnivorous plant but all have one thing in common, they eat insects for nutrients that they can't get from the soil. Without good conservation, like preserving and managing ecologically significant land, carnivorous plants, like the Venus flytrap, won’t have a place to live in the natural world. So where are these charismatic carnivorous Venus flytrap plants? Are they surviving? Are they thriving?

What and where is the Venus flytrap?

Venus flytraps are an iconic species, not just for North & South Carolina which is their native home, but for the world. They have been featured in over a dozen movies (it actually has its own horror movie called "Venus Flytrap" released in 1970), musicals (think Little Shop of Horrors) and TV shows (the Simpsons see them at the Botanical Garden). The Venus flytraps scientific name is Dionaea (goddess of love) muscipula (mousetrap) and it depends on a very unique, fire-dependent habitat for survival. It is North Carolina’s official carnivorous plant and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been working to conserve and protect this species unique habitat for many years.

A very small corner of North and South Carolina, specifically a 90 mile radius around Wilmington, North Carolina, is the only place in the world that the Venus flytrap grows in the wild. The majority of Venus flytraps grow in three very large populations and one of those populations is none other than TNC’s own Green Swamp preserve (a fitting name for the home of a carnivorous plant).

Keeping the Flytraps alive

The 16,639 acre preserve called the Green Swamp is in the southeast coastal plain of North Carolina. The Green Swamp is home to a substantial population of Venus flytraps, but to maintain those populations a few things are needed. First and foremost, the flytraps need fire. The Green Swamp and surrounding areas are fire dependent which means they require controlled burns to stay healthy and to maintain the open understory savanna habitat needed to ensure Venus flytrap survival in the wild. Without these fires the savannas become overgrown shading out the light and taking up the nutrients the flytraps need.

Secondly, flytrap poachers need to be stopped. Poaching of a plant, or digging up a plant from private property to sell it, might sound unexpected but it only takes a quick Google search of “poaching Venus flytraps” to reveal the true extent of the market value of this plant. People are commonly arrested for poaching Venus flytraps, particularly from the Green Swamp, but the problem has outgrown the resources needed to arrest all poachers. It’s a real threat to their limited populations, even if a surprising one.

The science we need to succeed – i.e. what you are paying for!

TNC, in their effort to protect this unique fly-eating plant, wants to make sure they are effectively protecting the unique ecosystem it grows in. Are these plants being poached away? Is fire occurring frequently enough and in the right places to maintain their viability?

To answer these questions TNC proposes to survey the Venus flytrap population in the Green Swamp to provide a starting point from which to monitor these species in the future. If we know where the Venus flytraps are located in the preserve we can better direct where we need to do our controlled burning. Also, knowing specific Venus flytrap locations can help us to abate poaching. We will be able to keep a closer watch out in areas that have significantly larger numbers of Venus flytrap plants.

But here's the thing, there are densely vegetated habitats throughout the Green Swamp interspersed with the savannas called pocosin. Pocosins make it extraordinarily difficult to access many areas in the Green Swamp. This is why we are lacking information about the numbers and locations of Venus flytraps. We just haven't had the time to survey ourselves or the resources to contract the survey out. This is what led us here. We have a Green Swamp-area native botanist that has done other field work for us armed and ready to brave the pocosin. Our botanist will establish baseline monitoring plots as well as sample. This will allow us to monitor and track populations of Venus flytraps through time. It will be no easy task for the botanist as the conditions in the Green Swamp can be very hot and buggy. Trudging through pocosin would test even the very best field scientist! The baseline survey will take several months so long story short our botanist will need to be well compensated for their work, plus there will be other expenses like fuel and monitoring supplies.

We cannot possibly effectively conserve these species if we do not know how many we have and where they are located. This data will ensure we are managing Venus flytrap habitat properly and will complement the policy work TNC is pursuing to provide for tougher penalties on those caught poaching.

Thank you for your time and donation!

Carnivorous plant conservation advocate Stanley Rehder dies

The NASC was saddened to learn of the passing of North Carolina's 'Flytrap Man', Stanley Rehder. He was a tireless advocate for carnivorous plant conservation and education. Our thoughts are with his family.

For a thorough reflection on Stanley's life, we highly recommend this article by Ben Steelman published Monday in Star News Online:

Well into his 80s, Stanley Rehder cruised around Wilmington in a Jeep with the personalized license plate "FLYTRAP." For many in the Cape Fear area, Rehder was "The Flytrap Man," a jovial spokesman and advocate for the region's carnivorous plants.

Read more...

9th Biennial International Carnivorous Plant Society Conference

The NASC was recently assembled at the 9th biennial International Carnivorous Plant Society (ICPS) conference held at the Johnson and Wales University Inn at Seekonk, Massachusetts from August 11 to 13. Many of the Board members were on hand to staff our booth in the main hall where the show and sale occurred. We answered questions and explained our mission to dozens of visitors to the show, including many people who were learning about carnivorous plants for the first time! In addition to the awesome time we had at the table, our president Emily Troiano, who also happens to be the vice president of the New England Carnivorous Plant Society and the co-organizer of the 2012 ICPS conference, found time to prepare and give a presentation on the NASC's mission, objectives, accomplishments, and current projects. Call us humble, but we think she did an amazing job and the question session after her presentation turned into something more like a roundtable discussion on conservation.

The NASC Board and members, from left to right: David Schloat (advisory), Emily Troiano (president), Victor Holland (administrator of plant materials), Ryan Kitko (vice president), Matt Kaelin (member-at-large), Mark Todd (head of conservation), Sheila Stewart (treasurer), and Zuzana Srostlik (member).
The NASC table at the ICPS conference: Mark Todd and Sheila Stewart.
NASC Board members spoke with NECPS members throughout the day. Behind the table from left to right: Victor Holland, Mark Todd, and Sheila Stewart.