by Connie Oswald Stofko
You may have enjoyed the information on carnivorous plants that Kenny Coogan, co-founder of the Western New York Carnivorous Plant Club, shared with us back in 2012.
Coogan has moved to Florida, but he’ll be back in Buffalo to talk about his book– just released Oct. 1– called Florida’s Carnivorous Plants: Understanding, Identifying, and Cultivating the State’s Native Species.
While the title focuses on Florida, Coogan includes information that WNY gardeners will like, such as how the plants digest insects and how people in areas like ours can grow carnivorous plants in their own backyards.
“The book is written for a hobbyist,” he said. “I wrote it for my high school self. It has a thorough glossary. At the end of each chapter, there’s a section on commonly cared-for plants– the ones you can buy and put on your windowsill.”
Coogan will give a presentation from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.
The talk is included in your admission. You can buy E-tickets ahead of time so the Botanical Gardens will know how many people to expect.
After the talk, Coogan will sign books. Since he will be traveling from Florida to Buffalo with the books, please pre-order your copy of the book before Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Carnivorous plants are there & here
“I’m big into carnivorous plants,” said Coogan, who runs a successful carnivorous plant nursery.
While many carnivorous plants are heat-loving, tropical plants, carnivorous plants survive in many different climates. Varieties of sarracenia or North American pitcher plants are native to New York State, he said. They need a dormancy period and don’t mind a covering of snow.
Coogan has been to Iceland and seen native carnivorous plants there. Just last week he was in Alaska and saw some sundews, dormant but with seed pods, that are native there.
There are 34 native species of carnivorous plants that are historically found in Florida, and many are endangered or threatened.
“Carnivorous plants are threatened more than non-carnivorous plants,” he said, because carnivorous plants require a pure ecosystem with clean water, but face pollution from agriculture. One species native to Florida, Utricularia amethystina, is now extirpated (no longer found in Florida). The plant grew in only one small area, and a building was constructed on that spot, he said.
Poaching is a problem, too.
“As a board member of the International Carnivorous Plant Society, I say: ‘Don’t take carnivorous plants from the wild,'” Coogan stated.
He holds a master’s degree in Global Sustainability.
Coogan’s interest in nature appeared early.
“I grew up at the Aquarium of Niagara,” he said. From age 12 to 22, he was there in some capacity: attending summer camps, as an intern and finally as an aquarist, feeding sharks, penguins and fish.
In Florida, Coogan taught science for eight years, and in his first year was named best beginning science teacher in that state. He now works for the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst-based nonprofit that works to mitigate belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal. While in Western New York, he will train teachers at a statewide conference.