Drosera brevifolia

Typical "white-flowered" D. brevifolia form

Range: Southeastern quarter of the US, through Cuba, Central America, and southeastern South America

 

This primarily northern temperate plant, often referred to as the “dwarf sundew” due to its diminutive size relative to other species it often grows with, has an oddly disjunct range; while most known populations are in the southeastern US (fromVirginia south to Florida, east across through Arkansas and Oklahoma down through Texas), there are also forms known from Cuba and possibly other large Caribbean islands, some Central American populations, and then it again shows up in southern Brazil and neighboring Uruguay and Argentina. They prefer living in moist peaty or sandy soils such as savannahs or seepages, persisting in drier areas than other species and dying back to roots when drought hits. Plants average only 2-3 cm across when fully mature, rare forms reaching 4 cm across, with flat ground-hugging rosettes of wedge-shaped leaves bearing very narrow petioles and lamina that rapidly expand to their ends. Coloration is olive green to solid crimson red. Inflorescences occasionally reach up to 15 cm tall but rarely exceed more than 3-5 cm and are covered in small but distinctive glands, and bear anywhere from 1-5 flowers. Blooms are up to 1.5 cm across, sometimes equal to the rosette, with broad, rounded to obovate and sometimes emarginate-tipped petals of either white or pink. This species is easily distinguished from most others that it may grow alongside by its small size and nearly apetiolate leaves, and the highly glandular, few-flowered stalks.

 

Cultivation: best grown in a sandy peat mix, kept moist to even briefly flooded year round (though allowing to dry and trigger dormancy may spur flowering in some forms afterward). Temperatures should remain warm at around 65-90°F, though US localities may tolerate light frosts. Sow seeds on soil surface, expect that germination may happen rapidly or could take up to several months, and grow in strong artificial light to full sun.

 

Lifespan and reproduction: reported annual to biennial in the wild, but easily short-lived perennial in cultivation. Reproduces via seeds and possibly divided root systems after die-back, cuttings not known to be successful.

 

Sources: Drosera of the World Vols. 2 and 3, Lowrie et al. 2017.

D. brevifolia white flower.jpg

The large flower of the "typical white flower" form.

Several sources I've found have referenced this species as being difficult to maintain in cultivation; personally I have not found this to be accurate. Rather, as long as soil is kept moist and plants are fed with at least some frequency, they will maintain for years and even transplant if done carefully without much shock. However some forms seem to be touchier about blooming than others; the white version I've grown for many years blooms as soon as the plants are mature and healthy enough to do so, and may continue blooming for months until some eventual point where they stop, and a heavy feeding or repotting usually needed to start the cycle again. However the pink form from Hardin County in Texas, below, has been far less willing and as yet only given one not fully-sized set of blooms. A dry season may be necessary for it.

D. brevifolia Hardin Co. TX.jpg
D. brevifolia hardin Co. TX flower.jpg

Pink-flowered form from Hardin County, Texas. Less floriferous than the other form but with potential to make larger flowers, and sports a more flushed red color with less pigment in the tentacles than my white version.