The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: Are any carnivorous plants "noxious"?

Utricularia inflata
Utricularia inflata

Utricularia inflata
Utricularia inflata
A: First, let me note that the word "noxious," at least as it means within the USA, means more than just annoying. This word has legal implications, and is used to indicate a plant that has some laws in place to govern its transport, sale, and even possibly enforced eradication.

What kinds of attributes merit the designation of "noxious"? Usually (but not necessarily always) a noxious plant is non-native, but most importantly it causes some kind of effect that costs the public money. For example, it may be toxic to cattle or humans, or it may choke waterways, or decrease crop yields.

Ibicella lutea is a plant which, while not having any particular status in the USA, is labelled noxious in Western Australia. It has this designation because it has long seed pods that get snagged in the feet and coats of livestock, and can hurt them with its sharb barbs. While probably not carnivorous, Ibicella lutea has features that merit its being discussed elsewhere in this FAQ.

The lovely carnivorous plant Utricularia inflata is native to the southeastern parts of the USA. However, someone (probably a carnivorous plant enthusiast) let some plants loose in Washington state. Now it is growing rapidly in the lakes up there, where it is possibly displacing native species of Utricularia. Homeowners spend money trying to remove the plant, but are not being very successful. It may be listed as a noxious weed because it grows into dense mats which can impede boaters and others who would prefer open water. It would be ironic if the control methods people use to kill the Utricularia inflata ended up also killing natives such as Utricularia macrorhiza, U. gibba, U. minor, U. intermedia, or U. ochroleuca---I doubt this is what the original introducer of this plant intended!

Also, some carnivorous plant growers have been introducing Aldrovanda into a number of places in the Mid-Atlantic states of the USA, in particular New Jersey, Virginia, and probably elsewhere. If this plant gets a foothold, you can expect that folks who do not love carnivorous plants will take some kind of action.

Page citations: Anonymous, Washington State Dept. of Ecology, 2000; Ceska & Ceska, 1986; personal observation.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018