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Andreas Fleischmann

Drosera capensis in the wild!

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Drosera capensis is probably the most commonly cultivated sundew, and may become a serious noxious weedy where it got naturalized in suitable habitats. Surprisingly, this easy grower is not the most common Drosera species of the Cape area (this is without doubt the summer dormant geophyte D. trinvervia, which grows in every spot that supports CP growth, comparable to the annual D. glanduligera of Western Australia).

D. capensis is widespread in Southern Africa, however not a common plant! It grows very localized, and usually in rather small populations.

In its country of origin, D. capensis is a plant of very wet spots, which are at moist even at the top of the dry season (and those are usually rare in the seasonally fynbos vegetation of the Cape), like seepage areas, shores of lakes and rivers, wet water-filled depressions, roadside ditches, sphagnum bogs or dripping walls over rocks.

Dcapensis_habitat_TWKD.jpg

The darker part in the middle is a wet depression with seeping cool water, where the “narrow leaf”-type of D. capensis was found.

Dcapensis_TWKD_01.jpg

Here, D. capensis „narrow leaf“ grew in patches of poor soil between white quartz gravel. Accompanying CPs were Utricularia bisquamata ‘small flower’ (the weedy one!). Maybe you can even spot some developing scapes of the Utricularia in the left corner of the photograph. In drier, higher elevated spots (which get dry in summer), Drosera trinervia and D. zeyheri could be found.

Dcapensis_TWKD_02.jpg

Trio of D. capensis ;).

Dcapensis_TWKD_03.jpg

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At a different location far more to the North of the Western Cape, at Giftberg (Afrikaans for “toxic mountain”) - a tepui-like mountain plateau consisting of red sandstone - another form of D. capensis grows in a totally different habitat:

Giftberg_01.jpg

This is where all D. capensis ‘red’ in cultivation originate from! The plants of D. capensis which grow at Giftberg are getting an all red colour when grown in full sun.

However, in the wild, D. capensis usually prefers slightly shaded conditions, and is often growing on dark S- or SE-facing walls (like several of the European Pinguicula, which commonly prefer NW- or NE-facing walls).

Dcapensis_GB_habitat01.jpg

Dcapensis_GBhabitat02.jpg

The wet dripping wall habitat of D. capensis at Giftberg did remind me much of Pinguicula sites in Europe. However this is sandstone, not limestone, thus acidic conditions of course!

Dcapensis_GB01.jpg

D. capensis grows in a thin waterlogged carpet of mud and algae over the rock surface. Interestingly, a pink-flowered form of D. trinervia with quite long scapes grows sympatrically with D. capensis ‘red’ on these dripping walls. This is remarkable, because all other locations, where D. trinervia profoundly grows seem to dry out during the hot African summer. Maybe this is an “evergrowing” D. trinvervia? However, as all plants of those D. trinervia just had a few rosette leaves (like their white flowered sisters of seasonally wet habitats), I assume that they are dying back to dormant roots even if conditions are wet year-round. Just like the tuberous D. auriculata, which can well stand permanently wet soils, too, and which goes dormant nevertheless.

Dcapensis_GB03.jpg

D. capensis was able to settle directly in the rock cavities at any suitable spot where at least some water is permanently seeping through fine cracks of the red sandstone.

In more shaded conditions (like underneath overhanging rocks), the plants grew bigger (up to 30 cm in diameter!), but did not get as colourful as plants growing in brighter spots receiving more sun at least for some part of the day.

Dcapensis_GB_Robert.jpg

Famous sundew expert Dr. Robert Gibson carefully observing D. capensis growing in the shelter of a ledge.

Dcapensis_GB02.jpg

The only flower of D. capensis we found in September (out of season).

All the best,

Andreas

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Hi Andreas,

very interesting to see the natural habitat of D. capensis, somehow i would not meant that it will look this way with dripping walls (Pinguicula like) and so on.

And it´s also very interesting that D. trinervia is also growing there in very wet places. It´s worthy to take this “evergrowing” D. trinvervia in culture.

The tepui-like mountain plateau is really awesome.

Is the "albino" form (white flower) growing somewhere together with the "normal" purple flowering forms or are the locations totally different and seperated?

Thanks for the report and these wonderful pictures. :smile:

Best regards,

Dani

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Hello Daniel,

Thanks for the compliments.

Is the "albino" form (white flower) growing somewhere together with the "normal" purple flowering forms or are the locations totally different and seperated?

VERY seperated! ;) As already stated several times before in this forum, the anthocyan-free D. capensis 'alba' has so far never been found in the wild. All white-flowered D. capensis in cultivation originate from single clone of a spontaneous mutation in cultivation (from Thomas Carow's nursery, if I remember correctly).

All the best,

Andreas

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Gorgeous pictures ! Good work Andres ! : :yes:

Perhaps everybody would like to see propebly most common plants in cultivation like D.capensis in wild nature . :yes:

And by the way your pictures and sentences will help me to cultivate my new species Drosera trinervia

:smile:

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Wahoo :smile:

I wouldn't have expected to find Drosera on a dripping cliff like this. Just like many temperate Pinguicula.

Thank you for those 2 fieldreports Andreas

Edited by kisscool_38

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Thanks for sharing! Actually, I'm particularly interested in growing tips for D. trinervia, since I recently obtained one. Do I need to cause a hot and dry environment or will it be alright on a grow rack, with consistent conditions?

Picture032-3.jpg

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Hi Andreas,

VERY seperated! ;) As already stated several times before in this forum, the anthocyan-free D. capensis 'alba' has so far never been found in the wild. All white-flowered D. capensis in cultivation originate from single clone of a spontaneous mutation in cultivation (from Thomas Carow's nursery, if I remember correctly).

shame on me :cool: , i really have not known it till now. Perhaps because i´ve not been very interested in this species, but of course i´m growing several of them. After your post here i´m much more interested in this species.

Thanks for the explanation. :D

Best regards,

Dani

P.S.: Jim, in my opinion dead shagnum is not the best substrate for this species, i´m growing my plants in peat/sand.

Edited by Daniel O.

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Thanks for showing these photos (as well as the D. ramentacea in the other post), stunning pics!!

The first plants look like shining beacons in the gloomy landscape. Interesting to learn about the red form in Giftberg. Many years ago I received seeds with the name D. sp. PV1360 (Giftberg Pass). It didn't take long for me to understand that it was form of D. capensis. Also, it does get a nice reddish color, so I have been suspecting that it could be related to the red form. Thanks for the confirmation.

Regards,

Christer

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Very nice pictures! If all those Drosera capensis red come from that Giftberg the name'' red'' should be replaced by Giftberg. The name red suggest an cultivated form but its just a wild form of D. capensis from one isolated population on a mountain. So maybe Drosera capensis ''Giftberg'' would be a good name. It makes instantly clear where it cames from. All those fancy names may led to confusion.

Alexander

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Hi,

thanks again Andreas! Interesting to see, that the plants on your pictures do not look that red as they are known from cultivation (or am i interpreting this wrong?).

Btw, i think, the name of this Mountain is Gifberg and not Giftberg ;) Is it really sure, that all red plants com from there??

@Jim: Sphagnum is most likely the wrong medium for D. trinervia. You should better go for a peat/sand-Mix. If the plant dies back, just stop watering them for a few weeks (but do not let it get to dry!) and the plant will come back. D. trinervia is the easiest of the wintergrowing Drosera from Southafrica.

Christian

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Hello Christian,

Interesting to see, that the plants on your pictures do not look that red as they are known from cultivation (or am i interpreting this wrong?).

No, you are right, the are not a red as we are used to see them in cultivation. However in its natural habitat, these D. capensis do not grow in full sun all day, but partially shaded under overhangig rocks on a SE-facing cliff (as I have already mentioned above!).

Btw, i think, the name of this Mountain is Gifberg and not Giftberg

Both names are possible, "Gifberg" is the Dutch/Afrikaans spelling, "Giftberg" is most likely a German spelling thereof. Indeed the spelling "Gifberg" is found more often recently, however you will find the version with "t" in most maps and on herbarium labels (maybe because it was usually Germans to draw the maps and steal the plants? ;)). Interestingly, the South African botanical journal Bothalia demands using the "germanized" spelling with "t". But I agree that it is more appropriate to call the mountain "Gifberg".

Is it really sure, that all red plants com from there??

All D. capensis "red" in cultivation originate from seeds distributed by Eric Green (from the early 80ies on), which he collected from this population at Gifberg. As far as I know, this is the only known population of these red D. capensis, however I cannot exclude further populations in the red sandstone mountains of the northern Cape.

All the best,

Andreas

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Dear Andreas,

Great photos! Is this _Schizaea_ growing behind the sundew?

Dcapensis_TWKD_03.jpg

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All D. capensis "red" in cultivation originate from seeds distributed by Eric Green (from the early 80ies on), which he collected from this population at Gifberg. As far as I know, this is the only known population of these red D. capensis, however I cannot exclude further populations in the red sandstone mountains of the northern Cape.

I found a small population of red capensis in a small flush close to the sea at Betty's Bay nr Hermanus around 1985. I think most of this area is now developed though.

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Thanks Andreas. A very interesting report on the species as found in situ.

D. capensis has been classified as noxious weed here with any form of distribution prohibited. It has formed large colonies in several protected locations of significance with respect to native species and arguably out-competes D. pygmea in habitats where the two are found together.

Having said that, of course, it grows freely in most CP cultivators collections becoming a pest for some. I myself try to remove D.capensis from my wider collection as soon as they appear only keeping some isolated type specimens.

It certainly is a most beautiful plant, but like many things introduced to our somewhat fragile New Zealand ecosystem having developed in isolation for so long, it is simply in the wrong place.

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You'll probably think I'm crazy, but I think that D. capensis is every bit as stately as a D. regia. Unfortunately, it is way too successful for its own good - just like a dandelion.

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Hello all,

Jim, I fully agree with you! It's one of my favourite species (maybe only outcompeted by D. indica and D. spatulata ;)), all which are easy growing weeds.

@Dave: No, this is not a fern at all. The grass-like plant behind the D. capensis in that photo is a Restionaceae, the tiny shrublet on the left is a member of Ericaceae.

All the best,

Andreas

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