Venus flytrap celebrated, city’s plant park dedicated

by Shannon Rae Gentry
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lumina News file photo 

The North Carolina Coastal Land Trust will hold the third annual Flytrap Frolic on Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden located off of Canterbury Road behind Alderman Elementary School.

Contrary to the bloodthirsty plant at Mushnik’s Flower Shop (from the 1960 dark comedy film “Little Shop of Horrors”), the Venus flytrap of the Cape Fear region is not nearly as aggressive or even noticeable as the man-eating Audrey II.

In reality, the Venus flytrap is about the size of a quarter and only grows naturally within the 120-mile radius of Wilmington, where nutrient deficient soil made the plant evolve into this insect-eating anomaly.

“A lot of people don’t know that, they think that the flytrap grows everywhere, and they don’t,” said Diana Corbett, former board member of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust and chair of this weekend’s Flytrap Frolic.

The third annual Flytrap Frolic is a free educational event focusing on carnivorous plants and conservation this Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden located off of Canterbury Road behind Alderman Elementary School.

In an interview on Thursday, April 4, Corbett said that returning features this year will be accompanied by new partners like Oak Island’s Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter, which cares for injured and orphaned birds.

“They’re going to bring a brown pelican and red tail hawk, and if they have a bird to release, they’ll do that as well,” she said.

Other special activities include walking tours of the garden, flytrap kids’ crafts, and the return of live snakes from Halyburton Park.

“[Last year] everyone could feel and touch the snakes and some people held them,” Corbett said.

With everything from flytrap cookies provided by Tidal Creek Cooperative Food Market to a flytrap mascot, Corbett said the frolic features other carnivorous plant life like sundews, which are low to the ground and difficult to see, like the flytrap.

Corbett said that the event’s speakers this year include retired biologist Richard Leblond and Cape Fear Community College’s geology instructor Dr. Phil Garwood (also known as Dr. Rocks), who will help identify these unique plants.

“Dr. Rocks will provide all of his students and they will stand along the trail and point out these plants, because the flytraps and sundews are the size of quarters or smaller,” Corbett said.

Other activities include geocaching plant scavenger hunts and presentations about the region’s carnivorous plants. 

The Flytrap Frolic will be preceded by a special dedication of the new overlook viewing platform on Friday, April 19 at 1:30 p.m. Mayor Bill Saffo will celebrate the official lease of the garden to the City of Wilmington and dedicate the city’s new overlook and signage for the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden.

Owned by The Oleander Company, leased to the city, and protected by a conservation easement held by the N.C. Coastal Land Trust, the garden was named in honor of Stanley Rehder in 2001. Before his death in 2012, Corbett said the local horticulturalist spent years helping create the garden, and was a national spokesman for the flytrap and its preservation. While poaching the Venus flytrap comes with a hefty fine, Corbett described the garden area as sort of an oasis for the plant, as well as a learning platform for the community.

“[The flytrap] is a part of our heritage … and if we can start education about these plants and how to conserve land at an early age it becomes easier as adults,” Corbett said.

For more information about the Flytrap Frolic visit


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