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.


A Taste of Freedom Park, Charlotte’s best outdoor family recreation

Freedom Park is an oasis of natural beauty, peace and healthy relaxation in the heart of the Queen City. Charlotte’s “Central Park” has indulged, pampered and energized, in a rite of passage, entire families for generations.

Freedom Park duck pond

Freedom Park duck pond

Fun things to do

(Freedom Park parking and activities map)

• Hike, jog or bike on miles of trails along the lake and Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Beware it gets crowded in the weekend as roller bladders and skaters take control of the many paved trails.

• Play tennis, soccer, baseball, volleyball or basketball. Cheer for the Dilworth baseball and softball teams, little league heroes since 1951!

• Bring your little ones to the 2 playgrounds where there is even an antique locomotive replica to climb on!

• Get the family together for an outdoor picnic at one of the five grill-equipped shelters.

• Enjoy music and art performances at the Mahlon Adams Pavilion throughout the summer.

Bridge over Little Sugar Creek

Bridge over Little Sugar Creek

• Learn about the abundant and colorful flora and fauna of the Carolinas at the Charlotte Nature Museum ($6 admission)

Upcoming events at Freedom Park

• Amphitheater at Sunset – bring chairs, blankets and a high spirit for free movie nights under the sky on July 10 and August 14

• Annual Festival in the Park, September 24 – 27. Join tens of thousands of music and art lovers and enjoy one of the best festivals in the South.

Hundreds of craft artists, entertainers and music bands will perform for free every day (remember Friday, September 25 is Kids’ Day!)

The park is open year around form dawn to dusk. For more info, tennis classes and facility rentals check the parks and recreation website or call (704) 432-4280.

Feeling artsy? Short drive from the park is the incredible Charlotte Museum of Art Museum now featuring fancy platform shoes and haute couture fashion collections!

While in Charlotte, you must take the kids downtown to Discovery Place, the coolest science museum in the Southeast! It was recently renovated with fun and exciting exhibits kids will love to play in. Admission is $12 adults and $9 children 2-13.

Summer is best enjoyed in Freedom Park, Charlotte NC!