As every nerd will tell you, there’s something alluring about being drawn into the dark side – a place where you don’t normally go.
In the musical Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour, a young man with zero sex appeal, works in a flower shop dreaming of his chances with Audrey – the girl of his fancy. When he somehow manages to create a carnivorous plant (that just so happens to feed on human flesh), he names it in her honor. But in order to keep “Audrey, Jr.” fed, he has to figure out where the food will come from next…and the hilarious nightmare begins.
Fortunately for us, carnivorous plants have very little interest in consuming humans; they’re too busy focused on the multitude of insects that pass unwittingly by. Still, there’s no reason to believe all is safe…for lurking around the dark side of the flora kingdom are “wicked plants.”
This weekend, do something delightfully sinister and treat yourself to three ways to safely come in contact with carnivorous plants:
Attend the Carnivorous Plant Show & Sale, June 25 from 12 – 4 pm at the Garden Center on Lake Merritt in Oakland.
The Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society (BACPS) is hosting their annual, one-day event in Oakland. Here’s where you can learn how to keep your Venus flytrap alive (no human sacrifices needed!), and then learn how these kinds of plants feed themselves insects and “even small rodents.”
The largest show of its kind in Northern California, there will be a juried exhibition, raffle, a rare plant auction, and hundreds of plants for sale from a variety of growers.
To continue your exposure to the deadly attraction of wicked plants, pay a visit to the California Carnivorous Plant nursery in Sebastapol. Originally founded by Peter D’Amato in 1989, the nursery (located on Old Gravenstein Hwy.) is a hot spot for carnivorous plants. From Venus flytraps, to pitcher plants, to the North California-native cobra plant (“with their bulbous green heads, twisted red tongues and long, tubular pitchers”), you’ll find them here. And if you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a butterwort and a bladderwort, be sure to ask the knowledgeable staff.
“Just was we study plants that heal, we must know the ones that kill,” says Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants. Her book – a popular read amongst flower society matrons and flora-philes alike – is all about the evil side that lurks in the world of plants.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers has mounted an exhibition (scheduled to run through October) that uses Stewart’s Wicked Plants as its inspiration. Filled with theatrical interpretations of the book’s sinister denizens, Lau Hodges (the director of operations and exhibits) has constructed a conservatory room that resembles an untended garden, with a murder victim who’s been poisoned by one (or more) of the plants that surround him.
Maybe it was the butler with an azalea that did him in; or maybe it was his wife, using the white snakeroot – the same weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother. Regardless, the exhibit is just another way to explore and appreciate the deadly art of plant cultivation.