The New England Carnivorous Plant Society (NECPS) 15th Annual Show, Sept. 2018

Our show at  Tower Hill Botanic Gardens  attract close to 3,000 people each year. Kids to adults alike, all awed by the sinister, yet beautiful world of carnivorous plants!

Our show at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens attract close to 3,000 people each year. Kids to adults alike, all awed by the sinister, yet beautiful world of carnivorous plants!

Darwin’s Atelier of course joined the fun!

Darwin’s Atelier of course joined the fun!

Dr. Aaron Ellison, a professor at Harvard Forest joined us for selling and signing his recent book, “ Carnivorous Plants”.

Dr. Aaron Ellison, a professor at Harvard Forest joined us for selling and signing his recent book, “ Carnivorous Plants”.

A display of  Utricularia  species native to New England.

A display of Utricularia species native to New England.

A little  Pinguicula  display on a Japanese “Shosuiseki” rock.

A little Pinguicula display on a Japanese “Shosuiseki” rock.

My  U. alpina  display got the first place! Thanks to this beautiful display case made by Ra Ve from Germany.

My U. alpina display got the first place! Thanks to this beautiful display case made by Ra Ve from Germany.

“The  Darlingtonia  Challenge” display. This year, NECPS promoted a “Who can grow  D. californica  the best?” contest. Those who were willing to take the challenge got a free  D. californica  from the society, found his/her own way to grow this notoriously difficult to grow plant in cultivation.

“The Darlingtonia Challenge” display. This year, NECPS promoted a “Who can grow D. californica the best?” contest. Those who were willing to take the challenge got a free D. californica from the society, found his/her own way to grow this notoriously difficult to grow plant in cultivation.

We were honored to have Dr. Larry Mellichamp provide a lecture on how  Sarracenia  avoid eating their own pollinators. Dr. Mellichamp is a retired professor at University of North Carolina. He is one of the few original people who have contributed significantly to introducing carnivorous plants in the USA, and educating the public about them. He is also the creator of the classic  Sarracenia  hybrids, “Bug Series”.

We were honored to have Dr. Larry Mellichamp provide a lecture on how Sarracenia avoid eating their own pollinators. Dr. Mellichamp is a retired professor at University of North Carolina. He is one of the few original people who have contributed significantly to introducing carnivorous plants in the USA, and educating the public about them. He is also the creator of the classic Sarracenia hybrids, “Bug Series”.

A little ICPS Conference reunion at the NECPS show. From left to right, Dr. Aaron Ellison, the author, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, and Audrey Mellichamp.

A little ICPS Conference reunion at the NECPS show. From left to right, Dr. Aaron Ellison, the author, Dr. Larry Mellichamp, and Audrey Mellichamp.

Darlingtonia californica (Cobra Lily) ICPS Field Trip, Aug. 2018

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Darwin’s Atelier participated in the International Carnivorous Plant Society meeting took place in Santa Rosa, CA in Aug. 2018.

After the conference, some of us joined the field trip to see Darlingtonia californica, aka Cobra Lily. D. californica is a carnivorous plant that is super endemic (grows only in specific places in the world) to the border between northern California and southern Oregon.

As the name suggests, the trap of  D. californica  has a bulbous head with a tongue sticking out as if a cobra is ready to strike!

As the name suggests, the trap of D. californica has a bulbous head with a tongue sticking out as if a cobra is ready to strike!

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We visited 12 different sites spanning between CA and OR. Although D. californica won’t grow everywhere, but when they find the right conditions, they appear to thrive. In all sites we visited, we found clumps of gorgeous healthy adult plants with seed pods. Unfortunately, the blooming season was over, but all flowers seemed to have set seeds, and numerous seedlings were coming out, which is a good sign of continuous growth into the future.

This was a beautiful site in CA.  Darlingtonia  were everywhere all around the perimeter of this small pond. It was very magical, like a fairy land of the Cobra Lily, except that all the fairies would be glowing trapped inside the plants!?

This was a beautiful site in CA. Darlingtonia were everywhere all around the perimeter of this small pond. It was very magical, like a fairy land of the Cobra Lily, except that all the fairies would be glowing trapped inside the plants!?

This was a protected bog full of  Darlingtonia  in CA. There was a boardwalk to guide you through this site. It was small, but the place was packed with these handsome Cobras!

This was a protected bog full of Darlingtonia in CA. There was a boardwalk to guide you through this site. It was small, but the place was packed with these handsome Cobras!

This short stretch of wall was actually covered with  D. californica  and  Pinguicula macroceras . It was absolutely spectacular to see both species growing over from top to bottom of this cliff.

This short stretch of wall was actually covered with D. californica and Pinguicula macroceras. It was absolutely spectacular to see both species growing over from top to bottom of this cliff.

Here are some of the cute little Darlingtonia conversations we witnessed during the trip.

Lo and behold! This was the great hill of a carpet of  Darlingtonia ! On the other side of this hill, a big natural fire was burning. In fact, we did not even know if we were allowed to visit until we got there, as the national guard were restricting the traffic. Thanks to our capable guides Gina and Arthur who negotiated with the guards, we were able to get in! However, we were reminded constantly that we needed to be ready to get out of there at a moment’s notice in case the fire got too close. By the way, we were told later that this site survived the fire. Hurray!

Lo and behold! This was the great hill of a carpet of Darlingtonia! On the other side of this hill, a big natural fire was burning. In fact, we did not even know if we were allowed to visit until we got there, as the national guard were restricting the traffic. Thanks to our capable guides Gina and Arthur who negotiated with the guards, we were able to get in! However, we were reminded constantly that we needed to be ready to get out of there at a moment’s notice in case the fire got too close. By the way, we were told later that this site survived the fire. Hurray!

Hot, muddy and sweaty? Why not jump into the river!

Hot, muddy and sweaty? Why not jump into the river!

What made this trip so memorable was not only the plants, but also the people. We were all nice and fun loving bunch. After being covered with muck and sweat, taking pictures of the same plant over and over again all day under the blazing sun for 5 days, we certainly became like a little family (of plant nerds?).

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Darwin’s Atelier would like to thank especially Damon Collingsworth (California Carnivore), Arthur and Gina Morimoto (Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society) for organizing such a wonderful trip! Also Barry Rice and his wife Beth, who guided and taught us unique biological aspects of all the different sites. We would also like to thank Luke Basulto, who was the designated driver of our 12 passenger van, and took us everywhere safe and comfortable! Last but not least, all the CP lovers who joined the fun. Thank you all. We miss you!

The Boston Flower Show!

Darwin's Atelier is volunteering for the New England Carnivorous Plant Society at the Boston Flower Show this year!  We will be exhibiting lots of rare and interesting carnivorous plants and botanical art.  The Boston Flower Show will be held between Wednesday, March 14 to Sunday, March 18th.  Please stop by and check out our booth!

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"I Heart Science" Event at Harvard Museum of Natural History

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On Sat, Feb. 10th, 2018, Darwin’s Atelier and the New England Carnivorous Plant Society were invited to exhibit carnivorous plants at the special event, “I Heart Science” at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge Massachusetts, USA.

We brought a whole circus of carnivorous plants!  Nepenthes (tropical pitcher plant), Heliamphora (South American pitcher plant), Drosera (Sundew), Cephalotus (Australian pitcher plant), Aldrovanda (waterwheel plant), Utricularia (bladderwort), Pinguicula (butterwort), Genlisea (corkscrew plant), Sarracenia (North American pitcher plant), and of course, Dionaea (Venus Flytrap)!

Lots of family and kids showed up and were very enthusiastic about our plants!  Some kids, even moms and dads, just couldn’t get enough of them!  Kadeem Gilbert (one of the NECPS members, also a PhD candidate at Harvard University) taught about the convergent evolution of the pitcher plants.  He explained to visitors how genetically very different plants that grow in different parts of the world may evolve to have similar morphological features such as pitchers to trap insects.  The Sarracenia family grows in North America, Nepenthes mainly grows in tropical Asia, and the Cephalotus family only grows in Southwestern part of Australia.  They are genetically unrelated, and grow in very different parts of the world, but all evolved independently to develop pitchers to attract, capture and digest prey.  

What a fun and exciting day it was!  Thanks to all the visitors who stopped by, and to HMNH for inviting us.