After I published my recent blog post about Bonsai Magic, a lady named Renee emailed and asked if I’d like to visit her nursery in Houghton. The nursery is called Jozi Carnivores.

Carnivorous plants. Plants that murder stuff. Yaaaaassssssss. Renee didn’t have to ask me twice.

Here’s a question that just popped into my head: If a human vegetarian eats a carnivorous plant — a plant that eats animals — is the vegetarian still a vegetarian? Discuss.

Anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by venus fly traps. This is the species we all think about when we hear the term “carnivorous plant” — a plant with prickly little trap-like hands that clamp shut around their prey.

Venus fly trap at Jozi CarnivoresA Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores. That bug sitting on the plant is actually a hollow carcass — the plant already killed and ate it.

Fly trap clampingRenee demonstrates how the fly trap traps.

But actually, there are lots of other different kinds of carnivorous plants that murder and consume their food in various horrific ways. All of them are fascinating.

The American trumpet pitcher, for example, lures insects to its “trumpet” with sweet-smelling nectar. The insect slips and falls down the long, skinny plant shaft and gets trapped in a pool of water, eventually dying of dehydration or exhaustion. Then the plant secretes a fluid that liquefies and digests the dead insect.

American trumpet pitcherThe American trumpet pitcher: Beautiful but deadly.

American trumpet pitchersA posse of pitchers.

Pitcher flowersFlowers on a pitcher.

American trumpet pitchers don’t only eat insects. They can also consume slugs. And (gulp) snails.

Renee loves her carnivores. She calls them “my little killers”.

Renee at Jozi CarnivoresRenee with one of her killers.

The Story of Jozi Carnivores

I like Renee’s story because it reminds me of my own. Just as I never set out to be a blogger, Renee never set out to be a carnivorous plant breeder. She didn’t study botany or anything to do with gardening. It just happened.

A few years ago, Renee bought a Venus fly trap for her daughter. They became fascinated with the plant and wanted to buy it a “friend”. (Carnivorous plants, I suppose because the way they eat is more relatable to humans, seem to be more easily personified than non-carnivorous plants.)

Renee struggled to find a friend for her Venus fly trap in Joburg. So she traveled to the Western Cape and bought a whole load of carnivorous plants from a nursery down there. After various frustrations and experimentations, she figured out how to house and grow the plants properly. She started selling her killers at various events, and hosting groups of school kids interested in learning about the plants. Kids love carnivorous plants and Renee loves kids.

Thus, Jozi Carnivores was born.

Sun tunnel at Jozi CarnivoresRows and rows of carnivorous plants in Renee’s special sun tunnel.

Renee grows beautiful little killers. And she loves them.

Tropical pitcher
A tropical pitcher plant. I want to make an inappropriate comment about what this plant reminds me of. But I won’t.

Sundew carnivoreSundew plants. I think this is one of the carnivorous species that is indigenous to South Africa. Insects get stuck on their sticky tentacles and suffocate. We actually saw this happen to a bug while were were there but I was too busy recording it for my Instagram story and didn’t get a decent photo.

I happened to visit Jozi Carnivores on Valentine’s Day. So Renee gave me (and my colleague Marie-Lais, who also came) a Valentine’s fly trap.

Valentine's fly trap
A murderous plant seemed like a totally appropriate Valentine’s gift this year.

I love my little killer too.

Contact Jozi Carnivores at +27-82-856-9876 or

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