A Venus flytrap.
The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) in the Green Swamp Preserve. © Christian Ziegler

Places We Protect

Green Swamp Preserve

The Green Swamp is famous for its carnivorous plants and magnificent orchids.

Conservation Highlights

The Green Swamp contains some of the country’s finest examples of longleaf pine savannas. The open savannas have a diverse herb layer with many orchids and insectivorous plants. Almost 13,000 acres of the preserve, however, are comprised of a dense evergreen shrub bog (pocosin) dominated by gallberry, titi, and sweetbay.

The Green Swamp contains at least 14 different species of insectivorous plants, including extensive populations of Venus flytrap, sundew, butterworts and bladdeworts, and four species of pitcher plant. THe preserve is also home to many rare animals, including the American alligator, Henslow's sparrow, Bachman's sparrow, and Hessel's hairstreak butterfly.

The Nature Conservancy’s many management activities at the Green Swamp include controlled burning and restoring pine plantations to longleaf pine savannas.

The Importance of Fire

Many of the plants in the Green Swamp benefit from periodic burning; pond pine’s cones burst and release seeds after being exposed to very high temperatures and wiregrass flowers vigorously after a fire. Longleaf pine seeds need bare ground to germinate and plenty of sunlight to grow, typical traits of plants that evolved in a landscape with frequent fires. The grasses and sedges of the Green Swamp have roots that are protected from the hottest fires, as do the orchids and insectivorous plants. Fire knocks back shrubby vegetation so light can reach the forest floor, allowing these understory plant species to persist.  For more information about how fire has historically benefited this great landscape, see our Controlled Burning Brochure.

History of the Preserve

Federal Paper Board donated 13,850 acres of this preserve to The Nature Conservancy in 1977 and an additional 2,577 acres in the late 1980s. The Nature Conservancy has since purchased additional land in the preserve. The management of the Green Swamp Preserve is supported by the Estate of Harry Patrick Gold and Erma Green Gold.

GPS Coordinates

Longitude: -78.29925218290

Latitude: 34.09321823280

Contact

You can reach our program staff during work hours at (910) 395-5000.

Plan Your Visit

The Green Swamp is open to visitors year-round from sun-up to sun-down.

There is an out-and-back trail that takes you through several savannas in the Green Swamp, totaling about a mile and a half. It's primitive, but marked with red diamond markers. The trail is flat and a small portion of the trail travels along boardwalk through thick shrubs. The boardwalk can get slippery, so be careful during wet conditions.

  • Always remain on the trail. The preserve's plants and animals are fragile, and it's easy to get lost wandering away from the markers.
  • Visitors should wear close-toed shoes; waterproof shoes are favorable.
  • The swamp can be buggy late May through the first frost; wearing layers and bringing insect repellent is advised.
  • Dogs are permitted on the trail, but must be leashed.
  • Camping is not allowed.
  • Overnight parking at the trailhead is not allowed.  
  • Part of the Green Swamp is open to hunting through the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Game Land program. See their website for hunting schedules.

"As a child I was obsessed with Venus flytraps. The idea of a plant eating a bug was just amazing to me. It still is. My favorite time to visit the Green Swamp is late May or early June when the flytraps are in bloom and the pitcher plants are at their prettiest. But, the preserve is awesome year round. A few years ago, I visited there in October when the Carolina Grass-of-Parnassus was in bloom. When people think of swamps, I believe they are imagining stuff they see on television – swamps like in Louisiana or Florida. But, our swamps are different – they aren't inundated with water. There is just so much going on there in the plant world." 
- Debbie Crane, Director of Communications