We are continuing our discussion of laws that went into effect on Dec. 1, and we thought it was time to look at the new law protecting the Venus flytrap. The North Carolina General Assembly, on the recommendation of conservation groups, has increased the penalty for Venus flytrap poaching. The crime had been a misdemeanor. It is now Class H felony.
The offender need not be human: The law applies to people and businesses that dig up, pull up, take or carry away a plant or seed from public property or property owned by another person “with the intent to steal” either the plant or the seed. Helping someone to commit the crime is also a Class H felony. If convicted, offenders could go to jail for as long as 10 months.
Looking at the statute, we thought it only appropriate to learn more about the Venus flytrap. Trust us on this: It was a mistake.
At the very least, it was bad timing. We ended up paging through the websites just after lunch. Although illustrated by cute and clever cartoons, the step-by-step process of a Venus flytrap trapping, chomping and digesting its prey made us long for the oversized plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.” Audrey II may have lived off human flesh, but the process was … tidier, somehow. The time lapse photography was more than we could take.
Setting our misgivings aside, we learned that the plants only grow wild in a small area that just happens to be in North and South Carolina. According to FlytrapCare.com, the plants are native to bogs and swamps within a 100-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina. The plants sold on Amazon — actually, Amazon is the conduit; the plants are sold by growers that specialize in carnivorous plants — have been cultivated in greenhouses. We hope.
An adult flytrap costs about $15, not including shipping and handling. For the portion of the population that is fascinated by these things, then, it is much cheaper to pay retail than to steal one from its natural habitat. Either way, watch your fingers.
News & Record, “New North Carolina laws take effect Monday,” Nov. 30, 2014
Botanical Society of America, “The Mysterious Venus Flytrap,” accessed online on Dec. 24, 2014