The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: Should I buy carnivorous plants from eBay?

S. flava
S. flava

Dionaea
Dionaea

Pinguicula moranensis
Pinguicula moranensis

Drosera stolonifera
Drosera stolonifera

A: Usually the most reliable ways to get carnivorous plants are through dedicated carnivorous plant nurseries, in purchases from societal seedbanks, or by trade from other growers. And then there is eBay...

Buying on eBay can be a lot of fun, and you can get some bargains on all kinds of cool things. Of course, you can get screwed, too, and you don't have as much recourse as when you're dealing with a regular store. It's a big world. Carnivorous plants are usually for sale on eBay, and I sometimes get bombarded with e-mail queries about the plants, the prices, and the sources. Are the plants legal? Are they poached?

In very broad terms, there are three kinds of sellers.

  1. People who are hobbyists, and who are selling off extra plants from their collections. These people are usually pretty trustworthy, and are willing to sell you very cool stuff you can not get elsewhere.
  2. People who are in this strictly for the money. They'll sell anything they can at a big markup. The ICPS used to have trouble with people who would buy seed from the seedbank (a couple of bucks for 100+ seeds), and then turn around and sell the seeds on eBay for $10 per ten seeds. These people are usually selling pitcher plants (Sarracenia), Venus flytraps (Dionaea), sundews (Drosera), and other extremely common stuff for crazy prices. You can easily tell from their advertising that they know nothing about the plants.
  3. People with plants of dubious origin. They may have pulled them out of the ground (legally or otherwise). They may be willing to sell you plants across international borders without proper paperwork (in which case, the legal officials will visit YOU because as importer the responsibility rests with you to have everything in order!). Avoid such sellers, I counsel you.

Please do not e-mail me with questions about particular auctions, unless you are pretty confident you are seeing illegal trafficking (in which case I will be happy to blow the whistle). Also, do not ask me about the reliability of particular sellers. Usually they are selling plants under aliases. (No, I do not know their true identities. I would guess Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker.)

Are the plants being sold on various eBay auctions field collected? Look carefully at the claims. I would not want to buy Sarracenia from a grower in Florida, but would not mind buying Pinguicula from a grower in Tucson. Do you really believe the claims that the Sarracenia were snatched from the ground just before the bulldozers came? Maybe they were, but you just don't know.

So, gentle reader, I leave you with no answers and only more questions. Make up your own mind. But my suggestion would be to make sure you are buying plants from dedicated carnivorous plant nurseries, societies, or hobbyists. I don't know about your God, but mine considers poaching to be a stain on the soul.

Page citations: personal observation.

back forward

bar

Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005