Although carnivorous plants can be found in every state in America, North Carolina seems to have a plethora of them: Two dozen species can be found in the state. They are typically found in bogs and wetlands where they have adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soils and waters. Instead of getting what they need from the soil, they trap and digest insects, hence their name.
Probably the most famous carnivorous plant, Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) makes its home in longleaf pine savannas along the coastal plane. It is nearly exclusive to North Carolina, specifically a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina.The flytrap is federally protected, although still a favorite target for poachers. The flytrap produces uniquely shaped spiny leaves that are capable of folding around its prey and a moment's notice. Flytraps vary in size, usually between 6 to 12 inches tall with a similar width.
Butterworts have curved, yellowish leaves that are covered with hairs that produce a sticky mucus, which they use to capture insects. They are small, about 6 to 8 inches high with a smaller width. Two species of butterwort grow in North Carolina: the blueflower butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea), which produces bluish-purple flowers, and the yellow butterwort (Pinguicula lutea), which produces yellow flowers. They grow in sunny, open, wet areas.
Sundews are small plants that range in size from 1 to 10 inches (depending on the species). Small flowers are produced in the summer. Five varieties of sundew grow in North Carolina: English sundew (Drosera angelica), slenderleaf sundew (Drosera linearis), threadleaf sundew (Drosera filiformis), spoonleaf sundew (Drosera intermedia) and roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia.
The pitcher plant uses its long curled leaves to create a pitfall trap to capture insects. These traps fill with rainwater and digestive enzymes. Traps can be quite long, up to 18 inches high. Color of the leaves vary in shades of red, green and purple, depending on the species. They prefer to grow in low-lying areas where the soil is acidic and wet. Varieties that can be found in North Carolina include the yellow pitcher plant (Sarracenia flava), white pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla), hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor), green pitcher plant (Sarracenia oreophila), purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) and sweet pitcher plant (Sarracenia rubra).
Bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) are rootless, free-floating plants that grow in water or very wet soil. They range in size from a few inches to several feet tall. Their leaves have tiny bladders attached to them with trigger-sensitive hairs. When an insect or small animal brushes against the hair, the bladder sucks it in. Bladderworts can usually be identified by small flowers that rise above the surface of the water.
Of the more than 220 species of bladderwort, only 15 grow in North Carolina: horned (U. cornuta Michx.), Florida yellow (U. floridana Nash), leafy (U. foliosa L.), hiddenfruit (U. geminiscapa), humped (U. gibba L.), swollen (U. inflata Walter), southern (U. juncea), common (U. macrorhiza), lesser (U. minor L.), piedmont (U. olivacea), eastern purple (U. purpurea), little floating (U. radiata Small), lavender (U. resupinata), striped (U. striata) and zigzag (U. subulata L.).