Snap! Venus fly trap fans ask South Carolina to honor plant

Mar 21, 2023, 10:03 AM

FILE - A Venus fly trap grows naturally in a Carolina Bay at Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve in Conway, S.C., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005. Conservationists want South Carolina to make the Venus fly trap the state's official carnivorous plant, joining other official items such as the state bird (Carolina Wren), state hospitality beverage (tea) and the state picnic cuisine (barbecue). (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain, File)

(Carolina Wren)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Conservationists are pushing for the Venus fly trap to be South Carolina’s official carnivorous plant, joining other official items such as the state bird (Carolina Wren), state opera (Porgy and Bess) and the state snack (boiled peanuts).

In all, South Carolina has about five dozen official state things. There are already five different plants including yellow jasmine, which is the official flower, to the official fruit — the peach — to Indian Grass, which is, unsurprisingly, South Carolina’s official grass.

But supporters said honoring the Venus fly trap isn’t about one extra thing students see on an elementary school worksheet.

Instead, it’s about protecting and increasing awareness of an interesting species found only in this spot on the globe: the upper part of the South Carolina coast and a small sliver of southeast North Carolina.

“In a state as small as ours that is growing every day, we have to protect the things that belong here,” said South Carolina Sen. Thomas McElveen, who lead a subcommittee Tuesday that voted to advance a bill to elevate the status of the carnivorous plant.

The Democrat knows all about the allure of the plant with leaves that can trap insects to get a source of nutrition in the nutrient-poor soil where it grows.

McElveen said his mom bought him one when he was a kid from the market. He named it “Audrey II” after the ravenous and cruel human-eating Venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors.

In the wild, Venus fly traps are the size of a lima bean and mean no harm to anything other than spiders and flies. They have special hairs that when brushed — twice in succession to reduce the amount of false alarms by dust or rain — snap the leaves shut around the insect.

If the prey continues to wiggle and is too big to escape from between the hairs, the plant releases acid that dissolves and digests the insect and provides nutrients.

“This is a plant for South Carolina to be proud of. It is globally rare,” Coastal Conservation League biologist Trapper Fowler told senators.

Venus fly traps face two big enemies — development. Poaching is illegal and the best groups of plants have been in heritage areas where they can grow away from thieves and avoid people in South Carolina’s fastest growing region. They’re also a fragile plant that needs fire more than water — the blazes clear out faster, denser overgrowth that can choke the smaller fly traps.

The bill still has to get through the full Senate Family and Veterans Affairs Committee and then approval on the Senate floor before heading to the House.

But there’s enough time this year for the Venus fly trap to join other official South Carolina things like the official spider (Carolina Wolf Spider), picnic cuisine (barbecue), dance (the Shag) and stone (blue granite).

“You’re not just naming this plant and putting it in the back of our legislative manual,” McElveen said. “You may be doing something to raise awareness and conservation.”

National News

Associated Press

Judge says $475,000 award in New Hampshire youth center abuse case would be ‘miscarriage of justice’

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The judge who oversaw a landmark trial over abuse at New Hampshire’s youth detention center says capping the verdict at $475,000 as the state proposes would be an “unconscionable miscarriage of justice.” In a lengthy order issued Wednesday, Judge Andrew Schulman outlined five options for addressing the dispute that arose after […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Those who helped file voting fraud allegations are protected from suit, North Carolina justices say

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who assisted voters with submitting some 2016 ballot complaints, saying the fraud allegations they helped make were broadly protected within the protest process. The 5-0 ruling overturns the decision of a lower appeals court that determined only […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son. Authorities say the boy was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

NY judge imposes $15 million fine on unlicensed cannabis shops owner who says he gave free samples

The owner of seven unlicensed cannabis shops in New York whose promotions included an Easter egg hunt has been fined more than $15 million after state officials complained he repeatedly ignored notices to stop operating without approval, authorities said. A state Supreme Court justice in Lyons, New York, imposed the fine against David Tulley on […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

State dinner honoring Kenya showcases country star Brad Paisley and gospel music

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is throwing one of its biggest-ever state dinners for Kenyan President William Ruto and leaning in to the African leader’s tastes by showcasing two uniquely American types of music: gospel and country. The dinner Thursday night in a pavilion erected on the South Lawn is featuring performances by country […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Artist who created Precious Moments figurines depicting teardrop-eyed children dies at the age of 85

CARTHAGE, Mo. (AP) — Sam Butcher, the artist who created the Precious Moments figurines depicting angelic teardrop-eyed children, has died. He was 85. The company said in a Facebook post that he died early Monday surrounded by family. It said his life’s mission was “to share God’s gift of love with the world.” No details […]

5 hours ago

Snap! Venus fly trap fans ask South Carolina to honor plant