Drosera and Utricularia in the Blue Mountains

View from Govett’s Leap lookout in Blackheath, New South Wales, Australia

Australia has long been something of an aspirational destination for me; the countryside, people, and, most of all, plants have all been a great source of fascination. Mostly the plants though.

On a two week trip to the country last fall, I was left with a bit over two days at the end for botanizing. One of those days was spent in the Blue Mountains around Blackheath. Robert Gibson was kind enough to describe a well-known spot for carnivorous plants along the trail between Govetts Leap (pictured above) and Horseshoe Falls.

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Drosera oblanceolata in Hong Kong

Clump of Drosera oblanceolata plants

The Drosera on Lantau Island are confusing; there are lots of little rosetty plants that resemble an abstract intermediate point between typical Drosera spatulata and Drosera oblanceolata, but nothing that is clearly Drosera spatulata. Are the sundews simply a particularly abberant form of D. spatulata? Are they hybrids of some sort, or perhaps a new species due to be spilt out on its own in an upcomming taxanomic revision? I certainly don’t know.

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Macau Carnivorous Plants

Nepenthes mirabilis pitchers grow amongst ferns in Macau, China

Known primarily for casinos, egg tarts, and its proximity to Hong Kong, Macau is also home to a small selection of carnivorous plants. Drosera spatulata, Nepenthes mirabilis, Utricularia bifida, and U. caerulea may not be the sort of exotic rarities apt to excite the botanical cognoscenti; nonetheless, observing them growing together on a rugged maritime hillside is not an everyday occasion for most plant nerds.

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Eight Dollar Mountain Darlingtonia californica Wetland in February

Darlingtonia californica plants grow along a seep at 8 Dollar Mountain in Josephine County, Oregon

I've visited the Darlingtonia californica fens and seeps around 8 Dollar Mountain repeatedly over a number of years. Southern Oregon is fascinating botanically not just for the carnivorous plants found scattered about it's remote places but also for sheer non-carnivorous botanical diversity. From dense coniferous forrest to sparsely vegetated serpentine slopes, the variety of plants follows the variable native geology, which is hard to beat in the pacific northwest.

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Carnivorous Plants at Phu Phan National Park, Thailand

Landscape of a seep with carnivorous plants at Phu Phan National Park in Thailand I stopped by Phu Phan National Park on a trip around north-east Thailand a couple years ago. I had read that a few species of carnivorous plants might grow there which is precisely the sort of thing most likely to influence my choice of travel destinations.
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Utricularia ramosissima at Pha Taem

Utricularia ramosissima inflorescence

When I ran across a paper describing a new Utricularia species from Thailand the thing gave my memory a good jog. Had I seen that plant already? After digging thorough a few harddrives, it looks like yes, I did see Utricularia ramosissima on a trip to Thailand a couple years ago!

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Darlingtonia at $8 Mountain

Darligntonia californica plants at $8 Mountain in Josephine Co, Oregon

The Darlingtonia californica fens around $8 Mountain in Josephine County are probably the most attractive, best preserved Darlingtonia sites in Oregon. Here are a few photos from one of my favorite locations.

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Albion Bog

Large swath of Darlingtonia californica  growing in Albion bog

The pygmy forests along Mendocino’s coast are utterly fascinating. The place is an ecological wonderland of tiny, gnarled trees growing in depauperate podzols amongst rhododendrons and mosses. Rain is far more common than blue skies and the temperature rarely deviates far from a balmy 15°C. But that isn’t what first drew me to the place nor is it why I keep going back. No, what I find most intriguing about this terrace of acidic, sandy soil and stunted vegetation is that it is perfectly tailored to the environmental requirements of a number of carnivorous plants.

Drosera rotundifolia is a native fixture of the Sphagnum hummocks that dot the landscape but has been joined in the past few decades by a number of other stalkers of legged protein. Beginning in the 1970s, a group of Bay Area horticulturalists began augmenting the native flora with carnivores of their choosing, transforming a portion of the pygmy forest into a bizarre sort of botanic garden. They toyed with plantings of Darlingtonia and Sarracenia alongside swales of Drosera binata, exotic Drosera slackii, and even Heliamphora.

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