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D. x hybrida MacFarlane (photographed in habitat by Fernando Rivadavia, ref.


Often, there is a story behind the find; here's the one that goes with this plant.

Back in the early 1970's, I would often take my wife and young son to Bass River State Forest, near Tuckerton, NJ, where we would spend a weekend swimming, enjoying a BBQ, and where my son, and his friends would play for a few hours on swings in the playgrounds, and I managed to find a few hours to myself, where I could look for carnivorous plants.

The park had just opened and had formed new roads around the main lake (Lake Absegami), which also included a few boat launches. CPN had just formed, and I had already met Joe Mazrimas and Don Schnell; both asked me if I had encountered D. hybrida in my travels through the NJ Pine Barrens, having been through various trips since my teen years. I had found the hybrids between D. rotundifolia and D. intermedia (D. x beleziana) many times during those years, but wasn't even aware that this hybrid existed. I obtained a copy of MacFarlane's paper in which he described the plant growing in a bog near Atco, NJ.

I spent several years searching around Atco, NJ, a small town, about 35 miles inland from Tuckerton, NJ, and soon realized that MacFarlane's original site had been developed into the Atco Racetrack. Further up the road was a fenced in privately owned cranberry farm and bog, and further down the road were a series of mini malls and houses. I must have spent over five years searching for D. hybrida in this and other sites where D. filiformis and D. intermedia grew together in close proximity, but this hybrid proved to be quite elusive to me, and I finally resigned myself to the fact that we may never see this plant again.

One day I got a phone call from Dave Kutt (who designed and drew the banner art work for CPN), who lived near Mechanicsburg Ohio, and asked me if he could come out to visit for a few days, and tour the NJ Pine Barrens. He had a fine collection of Sarracenia, Pinguicula, and most Drosera from the South Coast states, but was looking for a few D. filiformis f. filiformis (v. typica) from the NJ Pine Barrens.

It happened to be mid March, (in the late 1970's), and I told him that the plants would most likely still be in dormant hibernacula, and suggested that he postpone his visit by a month or two, but he insisted, saying that his business is in a seasonal slow period, and may not be able to get a few days off during the better months. I knew of small area in Bass River Forest, an old boat launch where I had seen some D. filiformis the season before, but noticed that they were rather stunted, and not the best looking specimens as they were growing in the peaty detritus in a heavy traffic part of Lake Absegami, but they were rather exposed, and easy to spot. The better D. filiformis hibernacula were in drier ground, which was being overgrown with mounds of sphagnum and cranberry vines, and the population of D. filiformis was rapidly losing ground to succession.

We drove down to the site, and just as I predicted, all the Drosera were still in dormant hibernacula, but some were showing signs of breaking dormancy; we collected a few of these smaller D. filiformis, and I apologized for not finding the better, and larger hibernacula of this species.

A few months went by, and I grew the plants that I brought back under some florescent fixtures in my basement. Dave Kutt grew his outside with his Sarracenia collection. He called me up and mentioned that these D. filiformis seems rather small and etiolated, and I also noticed this with my own specimens, and attributed this to just being grown in artificial light.

The months went by, and they flowered, and still were about half the size that D. filiformis should be. I then noticed on my flowering plants that the flowers would open with white petals, and closed with a subtle but distinct purple flush, and then noticed that the petioles on these plants were much longer than anything I've seen on any other D. filiformis, and that the leaf blades were flat, and slightly rounded, and spathulate at the tip, while D. filiformis was curled backward, and their leaf tip came to a point.

I sent some plants to Don Schnell for his opinion, and a few to Joe Mazrimas as well. A few weeks went by, when I got the call from Don that they were in fact D. x hybrida, having examined the floral parts under a dissecting microscope, and they are a perfect match to the drawings and descriptions that MacFarlane published about a hundred years earlier! It was THE MOST exciting news I've heard in many years!

Although their seeds are sterile, just like D. x beleziana, they proved to be very easy to propagate by leaf cuttings, and also produced multiple buds at their base during their growing season, an attribute typical for D. intermedia.

We were all quite excited about finally finding this plant, ironically by accident too! We sent material out to various Japanese and European growers, and traded them for other CPs. It was quite an exhilarating find to finally rediscover this hybrid, many miles from its original site where MacFarlane discovered it, and to finally get it into cultivation. Most plants that are in cultivation today are originally from this site.

By the end of that season, I got a call from Dave Kutt saying, "Hey Rich, I'm still looking for some D. filiformis from the NJ Pine Barrens." I had a few plants that were already in dormant hibernacula, and sent them out to Dave.

- Rich

Edited by rsivertsen
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Hey Rich,

Thanks for telling us the history of this plant! I had some D X hybrida in cultivation around 15 years ago, I wonder if they were from this same site? Amazing to think it well could be!


Fernando Rivadavia

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also posted to the discussion on our recent pine barrens trip:

hi guys

first of all, sorry for being out of touch for such a long time (andreas!), ive been really busy and am going to try to take a break this summer to catch up.

anyway, i just got an email from a friend with a forwarded message from one of his friends.

apparently, theres another x hybrida spot. :)

he sent a photo (which looks like x hybrida to me and isn't the couple of plants we saw) and said "It occurs with its parents in good numbers south of Chatsworth." ill email him back and try to get location details.

rich, i really hope youre not serious about introducing any more cultivated plants into natural habitats. :yes: im sure there are other x hybrida spots... its just a matter of finding them.


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