When I was a kid carnivorous plants were something of legend & mystery. To think a plant could eat meat!! What wonders! My imagination ran wild with the idea of these elusive & rarer of plants. I'm sure many kids had them. My mother bought me one from the supermarket and we put it up on the window sill and I stared at it for hours. They never lasted too long outside of their natural habitat & looking back to those days of my youth I understand how important they are to preserve in the wild. When I tell people that the Venus flytrap grows in only one place in the entire world and its on the eastern, Atlantic seaboard in North and South Carolina, they almost can't believe it. It's as if the mystique of these plants has taken on some legendary story in the collective conscious. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that most people don't ponder plants as much as I do but still it is a cool fun fact. Perhaps they deserve more for the imagination. I suppose they should live in some dark, dangerous jungle in some foreign land. The local indigenous people that inhabit those forests tell stories of how people that trek into these shadowy places never return. Or that these man eating plants were created in some mad scientists greenhouse but the simplicity of these fascinating plants is just part of the natural world. They are tiny little things that hide in the understory of their specific habitats. They are unassuming & you'd have to really get in the dirt to see them for what they are - absolutely dynamic, beautiful, intricate & stuff of wonder. Darwin had said, when he discovered them, "At present moment, I care more about Drosera than the origin of all the species in the world."
If you looked at a Drosera (to the laymen a sundew) you can understand why Darwin was fascinated with them. They are small and grow in boggy, wet areas on the edges of ponds or deep within the sphagnum moss. Their colors are wonderful reds, lime greens and yellows. They have tiny arms that reach out into the sun and on the end of those arms they have small pads with even smaller arms and on the ends of those arms there are tiny, liquor-like, sticky, globules that attract insects. When the insects venture too close, naturally they get stuck in the sundews grip and eventually they decay and the sundew has nourished itself. It's an amazing adaptation these plants have gone through as a result to the poor mineral nutrition in the soil they grow in. There are at least 194 species all over the world of these unique plants that grow on every continent except Antarctica and they vary greatly in size and form. The centers of diversity lie in Australia, with roughly 50% of all known species, and South America and southern Africa, each with more than 20 species.
I've seen pitcher plants in upstate NY many times. I've seen Venus fly-traps down south growing in boggy pastures as well but it took me 45 years to realize that sundews where growing in my backyard here in the Pine Barrens. Truth be told I probably wasn't as interested in the mystique of these plants in my later years. Not like I was when I was a kid. Time gets on and you forget the things that tickled your fancy. Awe seems to fade when wisdom starts to move in. Now that I have found them in the wild and have seen them with my own eyes, my child like whimsy has caught hold of me again and it feels good to see that spark of youthfulness that most of us forget. It kind of restored something in me. That sense of adventure that doesn't go away but hides just underneath the the meniscus of becoming a husband and a father. Those little things seem to get buried under the larger things that life throws at you but it's important to find these things again. The earlier you do the better life will be - again. It seems like we take a break from being young because its a lot to handle and later on in life we re-discover it and then things change once again. We find exuberance in our adult life. We find that things that have become normal, that we may have taken for granted, somehow have a new light shining inside. The sundews have done this for me and I'm going to tell you that was hard for me to ever let go of my youth even though I have become a husband, a father, a handyman, a business owner. I guess they call it some kind of Peter Pan syndrome. I never look at myself as an adult (I certainly don't always act like one). I've built my business around being young and exploring the natural world. My model has been go out and hike, take in the plants, smell the dirt and make products from that source. I guess what I'm saying is even though you are young at heart there is still room to feel youthful. To see the world through the eyes of a kid who is seeing things for the very first time. To not take things for granted. We can always seek adventure. We just have to find the time in between the adult stuff.
Discovery keeps us young. It brings us together as a planet community. To share experience and the lands beyond the vision of where you are standing is truly a special thing. There is feeling you get when you can tap into something you have either left behind or have just forgotten. It's different for everyone but for me it was my childhood that flooded in like a cool wave. My adventure took me only a few miles from my home but what I discovered where these wonderful sundews. They reminded me of when my father bought me a terrarium for my room with carnivorous plants for me to take care of. It reminded me of when my mother brought me home a Venus fly trap from the supermarket and I spent hours looking at it through a magnifying glass. Taking my kids to see the sundews out in the pine barrens was special because I got the opportunity to pass a long, lineage of adventure and discovery down to them. I can only hope that it will keep going.