It was a pleasure to see that Dr. Schnell has updated his earlier volume of Carnivorous Plants first published by Blair Press in 1976. Both editions have been the only books devoted to the native carnivorous plants of the United States. The newer updated second edition of Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada is an expansion of the previous one, including general notes and a short discussion on cultivation. Schnell delves into what a “true” carnivorous plant is and in what type of habitat each species thrives. He describes the different methods of trapping and how each species attracts their prey. Each species requires low nutrient acidic soils and bright sunlight. Some species may also be dependent on fire. Many species live in or are associated with the acidic loving Sphagnum moss—much of which lives in savannas, bogs, and seepage areas. Schnell describes each of the forty-five species in detail and includes range maps and information on cultivation, pollination, and animal associates. Hybrids exist for some species where their ranges overlap.
Dr. Schnell stresses the need for conservation, not only for the plants themselves, but for the ecosystem in which they live. Many of the areas that once harbored many species has been greatly reduced by ditching and draining boggy areas, over-collecting, improper burning practices and complete destruction of the habitat. Many of the species are threatened or endangered in states where these once thrived.