North Bay's California Carnivores has the largest variety of insect-eating plants in the U.S.

ByMelissa Pixcar Localish logo
Friday, August 27, 2021
Secretly Awesome: Insect-eating Plants
'We built this hobby.' California nursery sells killer plants with an appetite for insects.

Sebastopol; Calif. -- The founder of California Carnivores plant nursey in Northern California started his garden of insect-eating plants as a passion project decades ago.

Now, his passion has evolved to a profession that has grown to be the largest carnivorous plant nursey in the United States.

Peter D'Amato has shared his hobby and carnivorous plant expertise in his best-selling book, The Savage Garden.

"One of the other things that is unique is we literally built this hobby," said Damon Collingswoth, Co-owner of California Carnivores. "There weren't very many people growing carnivorous plants in 1989 when my business partner started this place. Almost nobody."

Collingsworth rooted his passion for carnivorous plants when D'Amato sold him his very first Cape sundew when he was 11-years-old.

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"It literally changed both of our lives," said Collingsworth. "I still have that plant here. This whole thing is just the little 11-year-old me dream come true."

Since 2006, Collingsworth has helped D'Amato turn the nursery into a blossoming plant business.

"I would describe carnivorous plants as this fascinating world where Mother Nature has taken this strange turn," said Daniela Ribbecke, Assistant at California Carnivores. "The plants are useful, beautiful, deadly to bugs, really beautiful to humans. Just an interesting evolutionary process to see."

There are close to a thousand carnivorous species in the wild.

Carnivorous plants can be found on every continent except Antarctica and are native to boglands and swamps.

"Normal plants are getting their fertilizer and nutrients from the soil they grow in and that is where carnivorous plants are different," said Collingsworth. "They have evolved the amazing ability to catch their own fertilizer out of the air."

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Carnivorous plants consume different insects depending on the plant's species and genus.

California Carnivores hybridizes plants to create more variations of a plant species.

"We're literally creating everything that we make," said Collingsworth. "We can ship carnivorous plants in pots to beginners anywhere in the U.S."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, California Carnivores had their busiest year as people stayed-at-home and home gardens bloomed during the lockdown.

California Carnivores does not plan to re-open their doors to the public anytime soon, but they have a strong online presence on most social media platforms to provide plant enthusiasts with education and tutorials.

"It feels really special to have a profession where we get to send carnivorous plants to all of the United States," said Ribbecke. "One of the great things about this is, as I mail every box out its spreading the love, and the knowledge, and the passion of the thing that I am so passionate about."

For more information, visit California Carnivores' website.