Venus flytrap

A carnivorous bog plant, the Venus flytrap is indigenous to the southeastern corner of North Carolina.

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Botanical Garden and Friends of Plant Conservation are working together to bring a bright, new license plate to NC drivers featuring one of the state’s most distinctive, native plants: the Venus fly trap.

Gail Perry, board member of the NC Botanical Garden Foundation, said that her organization has proposed the license plate because it would “advertise North Carolina, and promote our indigenous species of plant and environmental science.”

The NC Botanical Garden Foundation brings together individual and private sector support to help fund the botanical garden’s mission of education and conservation. Also invested in conservation, Friends of Plant Conservation work to conserve plants native to North Carolina as well as their natural habitats across the state.

The Venus flytrap is one of the most recognizable non-agricultural plants in the world, Perry said. Moreover, she said, it is one of the most recognizable carnivorous plants. “Many do not realize it is native to North Carolina,” she said, stating that it only grows in two counties in the southeast corner of the state and one county in South Carolina just across the border.

According to Perry, 800 residents of North Carolina have pre-paid for the license plate. Each plate costs $30 — $10 of that price will go toward the NC Department of Motor Vehicles, $12 will go to the NC Botanical Garden Foundation and the last $8 will go to Friends of Plant Conservation.

Right now, Perry said the specialty license plate is “languishing” in the rules and operations committee of the N.C. Senate. The Venus flytrap license plate is currently one among many worthy cause license plates currently moving through the state legislature, according to Perry, with others including the Special Olympics and the Association of Fire Chiefs. She said the North Carolina House passed the Venus flytrap unanimously on May 11 of this year when 11 representatives presented it.

“I’m hoping it’s just an oversight,” Perry said. She said that members of the NC Botanical Garden Foundation and its supporters continue to encourage the license plate and are looking forward to its approval.

According to the National Wildlife Foundation, the Venus flytrap is designated as vulnerable due to habitat destruction, poaching and over collection and is in consideration for the endangered species list. Perry said that the NC Botanical Gardens are working on a project with NASA to map habitat suitability for Venus flytraps using “satellites and rockets.”

The license plate, Perry said, will highlight and support Venus flytrap conservation. Although children are fascinated by the plant and the larger public recognizes it for its carnivorous qualities, there is much work to be done in raising awareness about its declining populations.

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Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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