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Carnivorous plants: Can they be rescued?

September 8, 2010 |  6:34 pm

UC Davis botanist Barry Rice examines a cobra lily while on the hunt for carnivorous plants
The Venus’ flytrap’s jaws and the cobra lily’s fangs give these meat-eaters an air of elegant menace. But don’t let that fool you: Against human encroachment of all kinds, these and other carnivorous plants have proved defenseless.

In the U.S. -- particularly the Southeast -- decades of human development have destroyed the bulk of their habitat. Poachers looking to make a quick buck thin out the survivors.

Conservationists have responded with increasingly creative measures. In California, UC Davis botanist Barry Rice has been tracking down established cobra lily colonies to learn when, and why, they disappear. In North Carolina, botanists even injected Venus’ flytraps with an invisible dye. Authorities trying to determine whether a flytrap had been stolen from protected land could simply shine a black light over the plant to find out.

Still, many in the field say they’re fighting a losing battle.

Read more in the Los Angeles’ Times story on carnivorous plants

-- Amina Khan

Photo: UC Davis botanist Barry Rice with a population of Darlingtonia californica, the meat-eating cobra lily, in the Sierra Nevada near Quincy, Calif.  Credit: Amina Khan / Los Angeles Times