The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: Why can't I collect plants if the land they live on is being destroyed anyway?

Build! Build!
Build! Build!
A: I grant you, if I were exploring a carnivorous plant site and I saw the area was in the act of being destroyed, I would certainly contact the site foreman and ask for permission to collect on that site. Then I would take every damn plant I could find and distribute them to other growers. I would also contact every sympathetic person I knew to help me.

But that cartoon scenario rarely happens.

What more often happens is that I am at some carnivorous plant site and see "For Sale" signs on the land (at prices I certainly cannot afford). There might even be signs saying that a new mall, etc., will soon be built on that very site. This is not yet a case that justifies field collection. Why? Because how do you know what is planned for those plants? Probably they are going to be killed. But it is very possible that a rescue mission through a land restoration group (local carnivorous plant society, botanical garden, or land management agency) already has plans to salvage those plants. Before you go digging, it is your legal and moral responsibility to contact the land owners. It is also possible that the very people who are buying the land are going to save it for the value of the natural habitat!

Again, the rosy scenarios I suggest above are unlikely. In all probability, the plants are doomed. But you don't know for certain, do you? I you are going to "rescue" the plants, make for damned sure you are doing the right thing.

Don't collect me!
Don't collect me!
Let me tell you a story about something I did once. I was visiting a Darlingtonia pitcher plant site and found that it was going to be logged. I tracked down the owners and talked to them about the site's natural values. I talked to their forester. I talked to the people responsible for reviewing the timber harvesting plan. I solicited faxes, phone calls, and letters from the internet. In the end, acting as an agent of the International Carnivorous Plant Society I was able to help influence the drafting of the harvest plan to spare the site. This kind of activity is vastly more productive than just shrugging and ripping a few plants out of the ground for a private collection.

Could you imagine what my righteous fury would have been if I discovered collectors tramping about the site and poaching plants during this time, citing logging as an excuse for their behavior?

I would have buried their bodies in the peat---downstream of course, since I would not want to affect the nutrient load leaching into the bog. Decaying bodies have a lot of nutrients in them, so I have discovered. I mean, so I am told.

So be careful where you collect, even if it seems apparent the land is going to be destroyed.

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

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018