Carnivorous Venus, Pink Pitcher, Lovebug and Monkey Cups…pretty little eaters at McMillan Greenhouse, Charlotte free fun things to see

My daughter and I had great time visiting the McMillan Greenhouse inside Charlotte Botanical Gardens (located on the east side of the university’s campus). We spent couple hours browsing, touching, smelling, gasping and laughing at the weirdest, funniest and most bizarre plants from around the world. The greenhouse has several rooms: Carnivorous, Orchids, Cactus, Dinosaurs (yeah that’s right!), and Tropical. Admission is free and the greenhouse is open daily 10AM-3PM (1-4PM on Sunday).

This post features the “ferocious” carnivorous plants: Venus flytrap, Pink pitcher, Lovebug Sarracenia Hybrid and the Monkey Cups.

My daughter pleaded for a Venus flytrap ($8 for sale).

Happy kid got her wish...a carnivorous plant home!

Our little flytrap: Dionaea Muscipula...sounds fierce!


Interesting facts:
• Venus flytrap lives only on the coast of North and South Carolina

• Venus Flytrap feeds on insects, yet big plants can catch and digest small frogs. It uses its bright red pigmentation to attract prey.

• The trap shuts in 0.3 seconds (one of the fastest plant movements in the world!) To avoid energy waste the trap snaps only after the trigger hairs have been stimulated twice within few seconds.

• It takes several days for the plant to completely digest an insect, and reopen its trap. Smaller insects sometimes escape despite a highly evolved grid of teeth that interlock when the trap closes.

• A trap is only good for 4 to 6 catches. After that, the trap withers, turns brown, and falls off. Read more and see a frog capturing video here.

When we got home we transferred the plant into a bigger pot (thanks to the wonderful staff we got free peat moss soil, which is best for Venus flytrap) with a large saucer and set it on the outdoor table in full sun. Within days she got to work, and caught three insects! All we had to do is give it water every day.

Venus flytrap only lives in South and North Carolina

Few days later, she caught a large mosquito and a couple of flies. Bravo!

The pitcher plants lure insects inside their specially designed leaves with pretty colors and sweet scents. The inner walls are slippery trapping most of the intruders for good. As victims accumulate in the depths of the pitcher, digestive juices are secreted that liquify the prey for absorption.

Carnivorous plants native to South and North Carolina

Pretty in pink, yet lethal

Monkey Cups is a tropical pitcher plant that lives in South China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Madagascar, Seychelles and Australia. As the name suggests monkeys use them as drink fountains.

Weird hungry and vicious plants on display at Charlotte Botanical Gardens

The monkey cups plant gets many visitors, some just looking for an easy meal inside the pitcher.

Hybrid mini carnivorous plants

What love got to do with it?

Interested to start your own bog garden? The McMillan Greenhouse has all you need: plants, knowledge and friendly staff on hand.

Learn all there is about carnivorous and orchis at Charlotte Botanical Gardens

Cute as a bog garden? Pretty little eaters...

Don’t forget McMillan’s biggest plant sale of the year will take place April 20 and 21st, 2012 8AM-3PM at the greenhouse.

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Crazy, cool science experiments at Discovery Place, Charlotte fun things to do with kids

On a bed of nails she makes me wait…

Some wacky, educational, yet always cool stuff at Discovery Place downtown Charlotte. I love this place! Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and $9 children 2-13.

Amazing frogs! Discovery Place Charlotte where natural science is always fun

The Fantastic Frogs exhibit at Discovery Place science museum in Charlotte features exotic live frogs from all over the world with striking survival capabilities. Here you can immerse in the wild, colorful world of amphibians and see how frogs use disgusing techinques to attract mates, deceive predators and survive.

Fantastic frogs hands on video presentation Discovery Place

Playing the frog lifecycle game


There are several interactive stations kids can play at, scientific videos and of course plenty of frogs. Free with museum admission ($12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 children (2-12))

The Marine Cane, Bufo Marinus, can survive almost anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

The Cane Toad

The toad that conquered most of Australia


Also known as the Cane Toad, it was brought from Hawaii to Australia in a failed attempt to control sugar cane beetle population.

With no natural enemies the toad has flourished and destroyed much of the habitat it was meant to protect.

It is now considered one of the world’s worst invasive species.

The Pacman Frog, Ceratrophys Ornata, can puff up to considerable size and has a large mouth (half as big as the body) with sharp teeth lining the bottowm jaw which deliver a powerful killler bite.

Frog with one of the largest mouths

Dont mess with the Pacman Frog!

The Mighty Poison Dart Frogs
• The Dying Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates Tinctorious, according to legend was used by Amerindians from Guyana and Amazon to change the green color of a young parrot’s feathers by plucking the desired area bald and then rubbing with the living frog. When new feathers grew in they will be magically dyed bright yellow and red.

• The Blue Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates Azureus,

Dendrobates azureus most territorial of dart frogs specie

The most fierce dart frogs females will defend territory and mating rights to their death

is considered one of the most territorial frogs, with females fiercely defending against other trespassing females.

During the breeding season, a victorious females wins the mating rights with the male of choice.

Two weeks after laying her eggs she must transfer them to separate pools as the growing tadpoles are cannibalistic.

• The Black-Legged Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates Bicolor, is one of the three frog species whose toxin was used to poison the spears of Columbian Choco Indians hunters.

• The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates Auratus, possesses a natural compound called epibatidine that has powerful pain-killing properties. It is 200 times stronger than morphine and is non-addictive.

Full of epibatidine to produce efective pain medicine

It packs a pain killing toxin that is 200 times stornger than morphine

• The Golden Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates Terribilis, is the world’s most poisonous frog, 4 times as toxic as the Blue Poison Dart Frog and 40 times more toxic than the Black-Legged Poison Dart Frog.

More incredible frog trivia:
• The Hairy Toad, Trichobatrachus Robustus, has bony protrusions that shoot out from the toe pads like claws to scare away predators; it’s not yet clear if they can also retract.

• Frog freeze! The Wood Frog turns its flesh from flexible to frozen during winter. The “popsicle” frog remains in a frigid state until the temperature rises, when it thaws back to life.

• The gliding-ator, Polypedates Dennysi, takes a leap of faith through the rainforest canopy to escape predators and to find mates.

• The tomato frog produces a sticky slime that is 25 times stronger than cement.

Visit Discovery Place to enjoy and learn about world’s most interesting creatures.

Think it up at Discovery Place! The best kids things to do in Charlotte

Everyone is an artist at Think It Up, the arts and crafts exhibit at Discovery Place museum downtown Charlotte. I wrote about Cool Stuff science and World Alive nature exhibits.
Think Up arts and crafts room Children Museum

Admission to Discovery Place is $12 adults, $10 seniors and $9 children 2-13 (plus $7 to park in the garage unless you’re lucky to find a spot on the street).

The museum is open daily, 9-4 Monday to Friday, 10-6 Saturday and 1-5 Sunday.

This post is about being smart and creative. You start with foil sculpting…

Then you move on to make your own fancy shoes and trendy leather accessories.

Arts and crafts fun making your own accessories

Explore the grace of moving air. Create your own air symphony using wind sockets!

Learn the power and fun of moving air

See how far can paper objects fly. Build your own UFO and let the wind turbine do the rest.

North Carolina best science museum

Finish up with a well deserved break on the dance floor.

Fun in the fog room science museum

Are you ready for some fun?

Wild about animals at Discovery Place, Charlotte fun kids things to do

I strongly believe the completely redesigned Discovery Place downtown Charlotte is the coolest science museum in the Southeast! Discovery Place is open daily 9AM to 4PM (6PM Saturday, noon to 5PM Sunday). Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 children 2-13 and free for those under 2.
This post is about the “Rainforest” and “World Alive” exhibits, filled with North Carolina native as well as exotic animals from around the world.

Touch the iguana Charlotte World Alive exhibit

Its so smooth!

It’s a jungle out here! Look out for python, dart frogs, macaws, sloth and cheerful birds. Make sure to attend the A World Apart free live show (daily at 3PM, free admission)

Jungle adventures for children of all ages

Walking a tight rope in Charlotte...

At “Touch a Tank” children can pet horse and hermit crabs, star fish, and sea urchins. How cool is that?

Sea creatures tank World Alive exhibit

Hello Patrick!

The aquarium consists of 15 tanks featuring diverse ecosystems: Indo-Pacific coral reef, North Carolina coastal habitat, and a seafloor reef with small sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and more.

Tropical coral freshwater fish marine creatures

Salt marsh habitat in North Carolina

We spent the most time in the science lab. Lana was trilled to look at all sorts of objecs under the fancy microscope and to manipulate the images on the computer.

Analyzing objects under the microscope

Your keys look huge mommy!

Yes, it’s real! Come enjoy an assortment of fresh wild animal poop, courtesy of black bears, bobcats, deer, raccoons and more…It stinks in here!

Bear deer bobcat raccoon snake moose scat samples

Yuk, smelly bear poop!

Dare to flex your bear muscles?

Life size replicas grizzly polar black bears

Arrrr...they look fierce!

I was drawn to the carnivorous plants…good think they were behind the glass.

Amazing Venus trap plants Charlotte Science exhibits

Tough as nails...watch out she will bite you!

A trip back in time. It’s a small world really…

Skeletons of our ancestors

Whos your daddy?

Be forever childish at Discovery Place in Charlotte!

Kids love blowing off balloons at Charlotte’s Discovery Place museum

No wonder the Little Einstein’s corner is one of the most popular exhibits at the awesome Discovery Place museum. Crowds gather quickly and are not shy to cheer on the volunteers as they perform “explosive” and even magical science experiments.

Tips to know before you go:
1. Go early morning, and if possible, during the week. The weekend is really crowded especially this month due to the new exhibit “The Day in Pompeii”. The Dinosaurs exhibit runs through August 10 so go see it while you can. Once this is over it’s worth paying the extra $10 to go see The Day in Pompeii; by then most of the excitement should have cooled off and you can enjoy it in peace at your own pace.

2. Reserve 2-3 hours to enjoy the museum. Plan ahead which exhibits you must attend and go there first. Be realistic, you can’t see and enjoy it all in just one visit.

• Toddlers and young kids: KidsPlace room, Puppet Show Theater (currently featuring Dinosaurs play with shows at 11 AM, 1:30, 2:30 and 3:45 PM), playing with shadows near Virtual Reality exhibit
• School age kids: All the dinosaurs exhibits (including digging for fossils for extra $2), Virtual Reality games, Little Einstein science, The Shop Machine exhibits

3. Parking – Use the museum garage parking ($7 day flat rate fee) and walk straight into the museum. Alternatively, you can park in the garage across the street from the museum ($5 day flat rate fee Fri and Sat)

Take your kids canopy zip-line, ATV, motocross and Black Ops riding at Carolina Adventure World, only 45 minutes drive from Charlotte.

Watch Little Jedi Fight at Discovery Place, an incredible children science museum (Charlotte fun things to do with kids)

“The Force is With You” at the fun-packed Discovery Place, a wonderful children museum downtown Charlotte (309 N Tryon near intersection of W. Trade and 6th streets).

For $10 admission ticket ($8 for kids) you can roar with the dinosaurs, dig up fossils, blow-up stuff at the Little Einstein exhibit, be Leonardo Da Vinci for a day at the Machine Shop, watch little rats play basketball and try your skills inside the Virtual Reality room.

Big kids can even see the adrenaline pumping The Dark Knight movie on the IMAX screen (extra $11, shows on Thursday at midnight and Friday at 1, 4:50, 7:40 and 10:30 PM)

That’s sounds like guaranteed weekend fun worth shouting about!

Want more adventure for your family? Then go ATV riding and canopy zipping at Carolina Adventure World!