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During my college years, one of my best friends, Dr. William Ratcliff aka Will, grew out some seeds that he purchased from Orton's plantation in the Carolinas (I think he bought these around 2002 or 2003). We suspect these were wild seeds collected from private property, as they were only sold in lots of 1000 or more. Will graduated in 2005 and had to move to Minnesota for his graduate studies, so he graciously gave me all of his plants. At the time, I wasn't into venus fly traps so much, so the pot was placed among the Sarracenia. They were jammed into a 4" pot and neglected for more than half a decade! No repotting, no TLC, nuthin! Out of 50+ seedlings, only a few survived and it was clearly the strongest and tougest of the bunch. This goes to show this clone has great breeding potential since it tolerated such severe neglect. When I finally got interested in VFT's again, the pot was overgrown with weeds and smothered with dead Sarracenia leaves (it was late winter and time to repot!) In fact, the plastic pot crumbled into pieces when I picked it up since it was so weathered from the sun! Dionaea "Orton's Red Side" as I'll tentatively call it was repotted and "grown for Jesus." After the first year of recovery, the 3 or so main plants produced huge traps! This clone can turn reddish on the inside of the trap (like most venus fly traps), but what makes this individual stand out from the crowd is its ability to produce red pigments on the outside of the trap while still having a solid green petiole and somewhat green interior. Environmental conditions play a huge role in this phenotype, but it also seems to be genetically based. The petioles very long petioles and can produce decently large traps. Over time, as the "bulb" grows large, it'll split into 2 or 4 plants, and the back of the bulb will form a few tiny plantlets. You know you have a vigorous clone when it constantly divides on its own (reminds me of B52). The fact that it does very well outdoors here in Northern California says a lot as well:it seems only the most vigorous VFT clones do well for us here. Some photos, taken 8/7/15. What's ridiculous is how I've had this plant for years and didn't fully notice the unique characteristics until now: The exterior of the trap. Notice there are some "normal" clones from the same seed batch mixed in this pot: The plants "shrunk" this year because I let them flower. Some of the stalks were as thick as baby asparagus: These plants were enormous last year, I'll pinch off the flowers next year and see if I can get them giant. Here's a picture of after the flowers finished taxing the plants:
My friends Damon and Axel of California Carnivores and I had the opportunity to check out the "flava atropurpurea" site in Okaloosa Co, FL, and while most eyes are on the flavas, my eyes were on the leucos! Not much is heard about, spoken of, or known about gigantic leucophyllas out there, and two years back, we discovered a gigantic plant in Baldwin Co, AL. This year, after seeing 100's of 1000's of S. leucophylla plants in the wild, we happen to stumble upon one gigantic plant! It's tough to see just how big they are in the photographs, but I did my best to give you a sense of just how big these monsters get. One interesting detail about this site is that it's located in the hills. Who would have thought that sarracenia bogs were found in the middle of a hilly forest?! More details on that in future posts. While the photographs we took depict a beautiful, tranquil scene, I assure you this is an incredibly hostile environment! Temperatures were near the 100's that day, and we constantly had to go back to the car, turn on the AC, and recover every 2 hours or so. In a lot of places, the grass is so tall you can't see you feet. This habitat is perfect for many deadly and venomous snakes! Every step you take could be your last one, as their teeth are sharp enough to go through hiking shoes and rubber boots. HEat exhaustion is no joke, and we were constantly drenched in sweat. Hiking under such conditions can be dangerous if you don't pay attention to staying hydrated. It's nice to look back at the photographs in the safetly of your home! For your viewing pleasure, below are photos of S. leucophylla growing in the wild in Okaloosa Co, FL. Photos were taken 9/7/13 and 9/8/13: The giant S. leucophylla! Lynx spider and some love bugs on the giant pitcher: Another shot of the giant trap: Close up: Lynx spider with prey on the gigantic trap: Damon Collinsworth in situ with the gigantic plant: one of the rare circumstances where he isn't ruining the photo: Mike Wang in situ with the same gigantic plant: And now for some other clones at this site-many plants were very white: large clumps of the same clone were fairly common here, indicating a happy environment for these plants: