Green Swamp Preserve is a nature conservancy site near the Cape Fear area of southeastern North Carolina, just a bit west of Wilmington. There is a parking area just under 6 miles north of state route 17 (Ocean Highway) on 211. Google Maps readily identifies the Preserve. About 100 yards before the parking area there is a small sign that indicates the parking area is ahead. The nearest lodging we found was about 7 miles away in Shallote, NC.
The Preserve is a bit over 16,000 acres with long-leaf pine forest, savanna, bog (pocosin) and swamp. It is known for insectivorous plants (sundew, pitcher plants and Venus fly trap) which we saw on May 8, 2018. According to the Nature Conservancy, several types of orchids can also be found but we did not see any on this trip.
The pine forest is very serene and pleasant in May. I was hoping for some ground mist for photography, but no luck on that. On my own, I only found some yellow pitcher plants and after several hours we were preparing to leave, when Julien and Jude arrived hoping to identify Bachman’s Sparrow. They were very familiar with the preserve and graciously offered to show us pitcher plants, sundews and fly traps. There are tons of these interesting plants especially in the savanna after the short boardwalk over a swampy area. The pitcher plants really stand out, but the fly traps are more cryptic and you need to know how to look for them. Sundews are quite small and you need to look carefully for them as well.
In early May, there weren’t many insects although we did see a swallowtail and dragonfly, which is good and bad: no pesky bugs, but not many interesting ones. I was assured that as the season progressed there would be plenty of insects. There were also tons of ferns of several different species.
Photographically I found my 105 macro to be most useful, but also used a 14 mm to try and capture a close-up of purple pitcher plant, and a 24 mm with extension tube to get really close to a Venus fly trap. If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend the work of Skip Pudney and his “Beginner’s Guide” to the preserve.
In the right season, this preserve is definitely worth a half day’s visit to experience both the forest and the bogs. If you are in the area, visits in all the seasons would be worthwhile.