The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: Is it OK to plant carnivorous plants along roadsides?

Sarracenia psittacina
Sarracenia psittacina

Drosera intermedia
Drosera intermedia
A: Roadside plantings---what a big can of worms this issue is!

It has often been noted that in the southeastern USA, some of the best carnivorous plant habitats are right along the roadsides. The obvious suggestion is that the roadsides should be used as carnivorous plant areas.

First, some caveats. Make sure you read the FAQ entry on invasive species and the threats in that pit of perils. Also, ponder the notion that roadsides may seem to be good habitat because that is the area you tend to survey most completely as you drive along the highway. Do you really know what the flats are like but 100 meters away from the road?

Why we should plant carnivorous plants along roads: Calculate the highway space available, and you get a lot of habitat! Carnivorous plants do not get very big, so they would not be a hazard to driving or visibility. Such plantings might also encourage interest in local plants. The occasional mowings (but not herbicides) actually encourage carnivorous plants by removing competitors.

Why we should not plant carnivorous plants along roads: From a scientific perspective, you are potentially diluting the gene pool by introducing seeds from non-local areas. This argument is quite strong when dealing with planting rare species. It must be demonstrated that the roadside plantings will not disturb the pollination of the native strains.

All told, I would surely like to see roadside plantings of carnivorous plants encouraged. Since they do not like herbicides, if the roadside management plans were rewritten to encourage carnivorous plants they would necessarily use less herbicides. This would be A Good Thing.

Page citations: Personal observations.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018