About Us

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Young Peter DamatoPeter D'Amato, Owner and Founder

Peter has been growing carnivorous plants for nearly 50 years and opened California Carnivores nursery in 1989. Co-founder of the Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society and frequent contributor to the International Carnivorous Plant Society's Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, he has written and lectured on the subject in many magazines and at various gatherings over the years.

Peter has spoken to groups all around the United States, including numerous zoos, horticultural societies, universities and botanical gardens. He has appeared on many television shows, including several Home and Garden Network programs, Martha Stewart Living, and various travel and garden shows from CNN to local California news programs.

Peter and Nel Damato In 1997 Peter was approached by an editor of Ten Speed Press, after the editor heard people at a party speaking of his strange nursery California Carnivores and visiting the real-life Little Shop of Horrors. The result was the book The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants, which was written long-hand in ten months and published with the help of many friends and customers.  The book has received rave reviews, and won two Book Awards, one from the American Horticultural Society and the other from the Garden Writers Association of America. Published in 1998, it is now in its eighth printing.

Peter DamatoPeter says, "I have been thrilled with the popularity of California Carnivores and the success of The Savage Garden, and even after all these years I'm am still in awe at the beauty and sinister mystery of carnivorous plants, just as much as the day I first lay eyes on them.  Nothing is more gratifying than to hear of happy people who have had just as much fun growing these marvels of nature as I have."



Damon CollingsworthDamon Collingsworth, Owner and Manager

Damon purchased his first carnivorous plant, a Cape Sundew, from Peter in 1988 at a local flea market and he has collected them ever since.  He was one of our first full-time employees!  After working at California Carnivores for a few years he got the once in a lifetime opportunity to live in Borneo and manage the nursery at Malesiana Tropicals with Ch'ien C. Lee.  Upon his return from Borneo Damon focused on building California Carnivores into the largest carnivorous plant botanical collection and nursery in the country.

Damon CollingsworthDamon has contributed articles to the International Carnivorous Plant Society Newsletter and collaborated with many Botanical Gardens around the country on large scale carnivorous plant installations and shows.  Most recently he designed, built and installed a permanent exhibit in the San Francisco Zoo.  He makes yearly pilgrimages to see and photograph carnivores in the wild and has had the privilege to visit many different sites all over the South Eastern United States.  Damon's photography skills have also been an asset.  He coordinated all of the photos for the Revised Savage Garden and most of the photos were his.

Daniela Ribbecke

Daniela Ribbecke started at the nursery after marrying Damon’s best friend, Andrew, from high school and becoming close friends with Damon.

Now, nearly a decade later she helps Damon manage the nursery and runs our social media. She does a little bit of everything from office work to pulling mail order to propagation and collection maintenance. And it all started with Damon bringing her Sarracenia every time he came over for dinner. 


   Mike Wilder

Mike Wilder

Mike Wilder began growing carnivorous plants in 1995.  Adrian Slack's “Insect-eating Plants & How to Grow Them,” as well as helpful advice from Peter D'Amato, inspired a lifelong passion for these fascinating plants.  By 2000 he began hybridizing Mexican Pinguicula and sowing seeds in vitro.  He continued plant cloning research in graduate school, while amassing a large Heliamphora collection.  After several years managing Bob Hanrahan's Carnivorous Plantation, Mike has returned to California to operate our tissue culture laboratory.  20 years after buying his first Nepenthes from California Carnivores, Mike is delighted to be producing rare species and hybrids for the next generation of carnivorous plant growers.

Kate Halpin 

Kate Halpin has a Masters in Botany and has worked with orchids and carnivorous plants. She came to work at CalCarn after spending several years working on Bob Hanrahans famous Carnivorous Plantation.

Kate works on all of our plants ex vitro, maintains our botanical collection and helps with propagation and everything else planty; she's our Goddess of Horticulture!  Kate also designs all of our amazing art work for shirts and tote bags as well as hand painting our gate at the nursery - if you’ve come by here and seen it, it is spectacular!

Kate is especially fond of anthocyanin free Sarracenia and allllll of the Pinguicula. We wouldn’t be able to produce all of the amazing plants we have for sale without Kate!                                                                                                                       

Tiffany Brainard

When Tiffany Brainard joined our team, we were so thankful! She’s known Damon for a lifetime and after years of hard work in customer service and management she came to work with us (and the plants.)

Tiffany is the Queen of MailOrder and packs each plant with care. She also loves to take home little baby plants that the rest of us have given up on.

Something nice is that Tiffany started making resin art including some pretty amazing custom earrings for us, with little Venus flytraps and Sarracenia pitchers in them. 

Muntaser Aquil

When we hired Muntaser we had no idea what an integral part of our crew he would become.

Muntaser can fill pots, make soil bags, bare root Sarracenia, pot up Cape Sundews and trim plants; all before lunch! Sometimes we can barely keep up with him!

He also keeps us laughing with his jokes and loves to talk about movies and food so our workroom is constantly filled with laughter and great conversations.

Alison Carrington-Tardif

Alison now manages our office and if you send us an email, you’ll be talking to her!

She’s been Daniela’s bestie for a decade and when she met Damon; the three became inseparable. Alison used to say she was a terrible plant mom but Damon would always bring her plants. It’s been super fun to watch as those Sarracenia and Pinguicula sparked her inner Planty Lady! Now she has a big collection of carnivorous plants (and the plant obsession has rapidly spread to all things Planty so she has a big, beautiful garden too).

Alison’s path into Planty Magic all started with a few Sarracenia and now she’s got orchids, houseplants, carnivorous plants, veggies, herbs, California natives and all sorts of fruit trees. It only takes one small plant to spark that Planty Magic 

Toby Collingsworth

Toby Collingsworth is Damon’s cat.  He spent many years as a house kitty before making his home at the nursery.

Now he’s perhaps the most chatty member of the crew. He follows us around, meowing commentary as we pack mail order, trim plants or pot up.

He earns his keep by catching rodents and leaving their body parts strewn about in an artistic display of gore, so much fun to find first thing in the morning.

He’s the best! We spoil him with cat beds all over the nursery, we share our lunch with him sometimes and we always stop to give him a pet. Every nursery needs a cat