The Venus Flytrap—Dobbs’ “Catch Fly”

A late 1700s drawing of a venus flytrap from Wikipedia

A late 1700s drawing of a venus flytrap from Wikipedia

On April 2, 1759, Governor Arthur Dobbs penned a letter to his naturalist friend Peter Collinson in England. The words that he wrote would begin the annals of the Venus Flytrap: “We have a kind of Catch Fly sensitive which closes upon anything that touches it, it grows in the Latitude 34 but not in 35°–I will try to save the seed here.”

Dobbs, originally from Ireland, was the Royal Governor of North Carolina from 1754 to 1763. In 1758, he moved to Brunswick, where he made his home at plantation he called Castle Dobbs. His time as governor was difficult, and he found himself increasingly at odds with the North Carolina Assembly. Dobbs found solace in his exploration of the natural history of North Carolina.

Though it is known and cultivated throughout the world, the Venus Flytrap is native only to a small area of the Coastal Plain in North and South Carolina, mostly within a 75 mile radius of Wilmington. The General Assembly adopted the Venus Flytrap as the official State Carnivorous Plant in 2005.

Read more in The Old North State Factbook from N.C. Historical Publications.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


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