Welcome to my Carnivorous Plants Page!

This page is in a fairly constant state of construction. As such, if you are interested in the subject, it would be a good idea to check back with some regularity. My growlist will be updated on this page as it changes in real life. The same is true of my trade/want list.

Photos are beginning to trickle in, take a look!

There is something extremely fascinating about these natural oddities. What could be more interesting than living things that actually work backward up the food chain?

I grow a number of genera of plants, including:

I also have a cultivation guide which contains many of the basics for growing carnivorous plants.

Also, if you are a collector as well, I'm willing to trade just about anything I have, as long as my personal stock is not exhausted. Here is a list of plants I am looking for.

From time to time, I have plants available for sale. Check my eBay page, or my zShop listings at Amazon.com.

Here is a list of people with whom I have had positive trading experiences, and who I would recommend to others interested in trading over the net.

One final, important note: All of my plants are propagated in captivity. I once placed an order with a mail order operation which provided me with plants that turned out to be wild collected. I no longer do business with this nursery. Many species of CP are under severe stress, and it is ethically and morally wrong to contribute to this by illegally or irresponsibly collecting these plants from their wild habitat. Besides, propagating in captivity is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of keeping these plants!


Byblis (Rainbow Plant)

Byblis, or the Rainbow Plant, is a lovely, branched stem plant that looks similar to some Drosera species, in that the leaves are covered in tentacles which secrete a substance which attracts, captures, and digests prey. The leaves are more lightly colored than the Sundews', however, and the droplets of mucilege tend to be a bit smaller. The overall effect is that when the plant is seen in direct sunlight, it often produces a prismatic, "rainbow"-like effect.

Byblis differs from Drosera in being what is called a "passive flypaper" trap. Drosera tentacles will actually fold around and envelop prey, while Byblis tentacles remain still.

Byblis, in my experience, also tends to trap a slightly different type of insect than Drosera, which seems to feed mainly on gnats, very small flies, and the occasional mosquito hawk. Byblis, on the other hand, actually seems to capture mosquitoes themselves, which is fine with me!

I grow the following species of Byblis:


Cephalotus (Australian Pitcher Plant)

Cephalotus FollicularisCephalotus follicularis is without a doubt the most bizarre-looking plant in my collection. All carnivorous plants look to me like they are not quite at home on this planet, but cephalotus really looks like it's from outer space.

Cephalotus is a pitcher plant with a ground-hugging, rosette arrangement. The pitchers radiate from a central point, along with a number of flat, non-carnivorous leaves. Each plant will have three to five pitchers, arranged radially. The trap type is again similar to Sarracenia or Nepenthes, utilizing an attractant around the rim of the pitcher. The inside walls of the pitcher are smooth and slick, providing no purchase for an insect. The prey falls to the bottom of the pitcher, where it encounters a fluid bath containing wetting agents and digestive chemicals.

While much has been written about how Cephalotus must be kept in terrariums, I have found that mine is quite happy sitting a few inches back from a window sill. This one takes a little less water than some other plants, but otherwise will live quite nicely in the same environment as other plants.

There is only one species, Cephalotus follicularis, and I grow it.
Growing Cephalotus


Darlingtonia (Cobra Lilly)

Darlingtonia CalifornicaDarlingtonia californica is a relative of Sarracenia that occurs in the Northwestern US, as far south as northern California.

Darlingtonia, like Sarracenia, is an upright pitcher plant. The pitchers radiate from a central rosette, and can grow to a height of 36 inches (just under 1 meter).

The trapping mechanism is slightly different than that of other pitcher plants. The top of the pitcher is bent forward, forming a dramatic structure which resembles a cobra with its hood spread. This is the source of the genus' common name. The resulting chamber at the top of the pitcher is covered with transparent fenestrations. The opening is at the bottom of the hood, from which issues a tongue-like structure, often referred to as "fangs". Insects enter the chamber through the opening, and once inside, the fenestrations provide much more light than the entrance to the trap. When the insect tries to leave, it flies toward the light, which is not the exit. Eventually, the insect falls down the throat of the pitcher, where is is trapped and digested.

Darlingtonia is a monotypic genus, meaning that Darlingtonia californica is the only species, and I grow it.
Growing Darlingtonia


Dionaea Muscipula (Venus Flytrap)

Venus FlytrapDionaea muscipula, better known as the Venus Flytrap, is probably the most widely known and recognized carnivorous plant in the world. It seems everyone you talk to had one at some point in their life. The Flytrap has a very unusual trap, which is a leaf with two lobes, edged with interlocking "teeth". On each of the lobes is a small number of trigger hairs. When these are disturbed, the lobes of the leaf snap together, sealing the hapless insect inside. After trapping, digestive chemicals enter the insect's body, and the fluids are absorbed into the leaf's surface. The chitinous material of the insect's body is not absorbed, and when the trap opens several days later, this material is carried away by winds, or plucked out by a careful grower.

Venus Flytraps have received an unfair reputation as difficult to grow. In reality, this plant is extremely easy to care for. Most of the rather high mortality rate can be blamed on bad advice given on care sheets often included with plants. Like Drosera and Sarracenia, Dionaea needs lots of water and lots of light. Feeding the plants hamburger or beef juice, which I have seen recommended on care sheets, will almost certainly kill the plants.

A healthy Venus Flytrap will acquire a red hue in the sun, and produce a number of robust leaf stalks. Like Sundews, I love a dense colony of Flytraps.

I grow the following Dionaea muscipula forms:

Growing Dionaea


Drosera (Sundew)

Cape SundewSundews are beautiful plants, with leaves covered with tiny tentacles. At the tip of each tentacle the plant secretes a drop of a transparent, sticky mucilage.

The mucilage is one of the most visually appealing parts of the sundew, and is the inspiration for the genus' common name. When illuminated by the sun, the droplets act like tiny prisms, giving the plant an overall glowing effect.

Insects are attracted to the liquid, which looks and smells to them like food. Once an insect touches the substance, however, they are trapped. The thick liquid holds the insect in place, while enzymes in the mucilege begin to break down the soft tissue of the insect's body. The resulting fluids are then absorbed into the plant, providing the nutrients the plant cannot get from its impoverished habitat.

Most droseras, especially the tropical varieties, are good plants for first-time growers, as they are very easy to grow in a window sill, and have very simple requirements. Many experienced growers actually find some drosera species to be "weeds", popping up all over the place, almost to the point of being pests! Personally, I find a thick field of Sundews to be singularly beautiful.

I grow several species of sundew, including:

Growing Drosera


Nepenthes (Tropical Pitcher Plants)

NepenthesNepenthes are a favorite among CP(carnivorous plants) enthusiasts. They offer beauty, challenge, and an enormous number of species, varieties and hybrids. Nepenthes form pitchers on the ends of tendrils that grow from the tips of wide leaves. The trap mechanism is similar to that of the Trumpet Pitchers, in that insects are tempted to alight on the rim of the pitcher, where they encounter a very slick surface, causing them to fall into a bath of water mixed with a wetting agent that renders their wings useless. The insects are then dissolved in the liquid, and the nutrients are absorbed into the walls of the pitcher.

Native to tropical areas of Asia, many species of Nepenthes grow long vines, and in the wild can grow to a height of several meters, the vines climbing up cliffs or trees. In greenhouses, the vines can get quite long, providing a beautiful foliage.

Nepenthes often represent a number of challenges: They are more demanding than many other genera of carnivorous plants, being somewhat more particular about growing conditions, and while beginners may want to cut their teeth on a few other types of plants before getting into Nepenthes, they are not necessarily more difficult, once you've got a clear idea of what they want. Another challenge posed by Nepenthes is that they tend to be more expensive to acquire than other carnivorous plants. The added challenge also serves to increase the popularity of this genus.

The species of Nepenthes that I grow are:

Highland species:

Lowland species:

Hybrids:

Growing Nepenthes


Pinguicula (Butterworts)

Pinguicula uses an active flypaper-type trapping mechanism. The surface of Pinguicula's broad, flat leaves is covered with a multitude of two types of glands. The first, larger type, sits atop a small, hair-like structure and produces a sticky substance that holds the victim in place. This gives the leaf a greasy look, inspiring the genus' common name. The movement of the prey causes the second, smaller type of gland to produce a slightly acidic substance which digests the soft portions of the insect's body. In many species, the edges of the leaves curl upward, perhaps preventing nutrient-rich fluids from running off.

Pinguicula are found primarily in the Northern hemisphere. They range from arctic, northern species to tropical evergreen forms. Many of the more popular and easy to grow species come from Mexico, where the conditions allow for some seasonal variation in growth habit, but do not require an actual dormancy period.

Pinguicula species fall into three groups: those forming winter resting buds, those that produce the same type of leaf year-round (homophyllous growth type), and those that produce a large summer leaf, and a smaller winter leaf (heterophyllous growth type).

Pinguicula produce some of the most attractive flowers among carnivorous plants. Many species flower freely, and the flowers can remain for months.

I currently grow the following Pinguicula species:

Coming soon:

Growing Pinguicula


Sarracenia (Trumpet Pitcher Plants)

Trumpet PitchersTrumpets are widely varied, and many people are surprised to learn that all species are native to North America, mostly in the Southeastern US. The trap is generally long and tubular, although it can be rather squat, as in the Purple Pitcher Plant (also known as the Hunstsman's Cup). The trap is rimmed with a sweet-smelling nectar, which is attractive to sugar-feeding insects such as flies. When the insect alights on the pitcher to feed, it is first intoxicated by a narcotic-like substance present in the nectar. As it moves about the surface of the pitcher, it encounters an extremely slick, waxy surface just below the rim, and falls in. The narrow pitcher restricts the insect's wings, and downward-pointing hairs allow the prey to go deeper into the pitcher, but do not allow it to escape. At the bottom of the pitcher is a substance, which could be either primarily water, or a mixture of enzymes (depending upon the species of plant), that break down the insect's body, and the resulting fluids are absorbed into the plant.

Sarracenia are generally quite lovely. Thier flowers are quite attractive, and I actually find the pitchers to be quite decorative on their own. I am particularly fond of the white and red-on-green venition of Sarracenia leucophylla.

Sarracenia are not particularly difficult to grow, as long as they are given plenty of water and light. However, since they require a dormancy period of between three and six months, depending on the species, I would recommend beginners add Sarracenia to a collection of Drosera or other evergreen plants, so you have something to look at and appreciate during the winter months.

The species of Sarracenia I grow are:

Growing Sarracenia


Other Carnivorous Plants Resources

Here are a number of resources that I have found to be extremely useful in learning about and managing sucessfully to grow a collection of carnivorous plants.

Books

Slack, Adrian: Carnivorous Plants
Now out of print. If I could only have one CP book, this would be it. All kinds of information on cultivating and propagating most of the major genera. Possibly a little out of date.
Cheers, Gordon: Letts Guide to Carnivorous Plants of the World
A very nice overview, more good info.
D'amato, Peter: The Savage Garden
One of the newest and a very interesting book.  D'amato gives advice that most other authors don't offer, which is quite refreshing.  While he's not writing books, Peter and his parter Marilee run Califoria Carnivores, one of the best retail CP nursuries I've ever seen.

General Resources

The International Carnivorous Plant Society
If you are the least bit interested in this subject, join this society. It's twenty-five dollars per year, and you get access to a fantastic seedbank and a quarterly newsletter. Well worth the price.

Web Resources

The Carnivorous Plant FAQ
Barry Myers-Rice, a long time CP guru, has set up this high quality page with lots of good information.
The Nepenthes Nursery
Andreas Wistuba runs a mail-order business specializing in Nepenthes (although he has other genera available as well). I have ordered from him, and find the reliability and prices to be competitive with anything I have found in the US. It is best to be patient, however, as orders are shipped into the US ony a few times per year.
Predator-Plants.com
David Bilbey runs a very nice web-based CP store. He's got a great selection, and a well-designed site.

The International Carnivorous Plants Society Web Ring
At the bottom of this page, you will find a table which allows you to navigate through the ICPS Web Ring, a ring made up of quality sites, both personal and commercial.

Getting in touch

If you would like to correspond about any of the subjects discussed here, or would like to trade some plants, then by all means email me, and we can talk! I'm definitely interested in helping out whenever I can, and would love to hear others' experiences!

This site is a member of the International Carnivorous Plants Society Web Ring. Use the table below to explore these sites. 

Carnivorous Plant Web Ring

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This page copyright 1997,98,99 by Michael Zenner. Last modified February 5,1999
Botanical line drawings by Judith Finn, U.C. Berkeley Botanical Gardens, from the ICPS CP Database.