The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: Can I collect Venus flytraps from the wild?

A: Absolutely not.

Venus flytraps are endangered in the wild, and field collection is completely wrong. Plants are easily available from numerous nurseries on and off the web.

There is a special place in Hell for plant collectors who field collect. I imagine the collectors cowering in miserably drafty caves while mighty redwood-sized plants stride about in the sunlight, occasionally bending down to tear the shrieking field-collectors from their burrows. The field collectors are then taken to fake little plastic houses where they die from diseases or the broken bones and tremendous wounds inflicted upon them by the careless redwood tree demons (only they don't die, because it is Hell, so this just goes on forever!).

Actually, if you are planning on collecting plants from the wild, prepare to fork out lots of money for fines, because it is illegal. The following information (and not my previous ranting!) was sent to me by Marj Boyer, who was a botanist employed by the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program. She has since retired, alas, and we miss her.

(Marj was good enough to review the Dionaea chapter of my book prior to publication, bless her soul.)

North Carolina Regulations on Rare Carnivorous Plants
(as of April 2000---updates appreciated)

Sarracenia oreophila, S. jonesii (S. rubra subsp. jonesii), Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytrap), and Utricularia olivacea are legally protected species under the North Carolina Plant Protection and Conservation Act. The Act is administered through the Plant Conservation Program in the NC Department of Agriculture. The Act states that it is unlawful "to possess any protected plant, or part thereof, which was obtained in violation of this Article or any rule adopted thereunder."

Convicted violators are fined $100-$500 for a first offense, $500-$1000 for subsequent convictions. "Each illegal movement or distribution of a protected plant shall constitute a separate violation," says the Act, and for continued violations the court may determine that each day in violation constitutes a separate violation. Also, for second or subsequent violations, the Plant Conservation Board may levy a civil fine of up to $2,000.

Venus flytrap is listed under the Act as "Special Concern" (i.e. not endangered or threatened, but entitled to regulatory protection because their exploitation could get them to the endangered-threatened stage). Regulations define Venus flytrap as "Any plant of the species Dionaea muscipula INCLUDING CUTTINGS, ROOTS, FRUITS, SEEDS, PROPAGULES OR ANY OTHER PLANT PART" [emphasis added] and state,

(b1) Venus flytraps may not be uprooted, dug, taken or otherwise disturbed or removed for any purpose from the lands of another without a written permit from the owner which is dated and valid for no more than 180 days except that the incidental disturbance of protected plants during agricultural, forestry or development operations is not illegal so long as the plants are not collected for sale or barter.

(b2) Venus flytraps may not be uprooted, dug, taken or otherwise disturbed or removed for any purpose from public lands in North Carolina without a written permit from the agency which is responsible for administration for such public lands. [At this time, no public agency is issuing flytrap-collecting permits at all, so in effect flytraps cannot be lawfully collected from public lands.]

(b3) The Replanting of Flytraps. All persons collecting flytraps from the wild are encouraged to plant the seeds of collected plants, if any, in the immediate vicinity of where they are found.

(b4) Any person collecting flytraps on the lands of another shall, at time of collection, have on their person written permission from the landowner, as required under G.S. 106-202.19(1). [i.e., (b1) above]

(b5) Possession of freshly dug Venus flytraps on the lands of another shall constitute prima facie evidence that the plants were taken from the same land on which the collector was found.

(c1) No person may sell or offer for sale Venus flytraps unless they have been lawfully collected, propagated from lawfully obtained stock plants or seed, or collected from one's own land.

Besides the requirement of landowner's permission, anyone selling or exporting VFT's needs a Collected Plant Certificate and/or a Nursery Dealer Certificate from the NC Dept. of Ag. Plant Protection Section, in accordance with our Plant Pest Law.

Enforcement in the field is usually handled by local law enforcement agents, wildlife officers and park rangers. NC wildlife officers have the power to enforce the plant laws on and off state lands, and have been enthusiastic in their pursuit of Venus flytrap poachers, since poaching has severely reduced or even eliminated some flytrap populations.

Sarracenia oreophila & S. rubra subsp. jonesii are listed as "Endangered-Special Concern" (E-SC) in NC. The two species are extremely rare and vulnerable in the state, and a number of conservation agencies are working together right now to save and manage the habitats and the wild populations. Utricularia olivacea is listed in North Carolina as "Threatened." As a general rule it is unlawful to take ANY part (including seeds) of any endangered or threatened (E or T) plant from the wild. We have a permit system that allows people to hold these plants under certain circumstances. There are two kinds of permits, one for conservation and one for propagation.

We can issue a Protected Plant Conservation Permit for collection from wild populations for purposes that will enhance the survival of the species: for scientific studies, for propagation for specific conservation projects, and for plant rescues (a last-ditch measure when the habitat is to be destroyed). The applicant for the permit states where, what, how many and reasons for collection, and what the ultimate disposition of the plants will be. We also issue the conservation permits to home gardeners and the like who receive E or T plants from a legitimate, non-wild source; the permit documents that the permittees are holding the plants lawfully.

For E-SC (like the two Sarracenia) and T-SC species, we can issue Protected Plant Propagation Permits. The plants can be lawfully propagated and sold under this permit, but ONLY when the stock or propagules come from a legitimate, non-wild source. Permittees record all their sales and attach Protected Plant Commerce Tags, provided by us, to the plants they sell. This makes a paper trail for the recipients of the plants to document that they, in turn, are holding the plants legitimately.

Another NC law, entitled "Taking, etc., of certain wild plants from land of another," includes Sarracenia (all species) in a long list of plants for which "no person...shall dig up, pull up or take from the land of another or from any public domain, the whole or any part of... without having in his possession a permit to dig up, pull up or take such plants, signed by the owner or such land, or by his duly authorized agent." Fines for violation are $10-$50 for each offense.

For more information on North Carolina regulations, permits, or list of Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern plants, see our web page at

Plant Conservation Program
NCDA & CS Plant Industry Division
P.O. Box 27611
Raleigh, NC 27611
Phone (919) 733-3610

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; reader contributions, personal observation.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018