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Drosera prolifera

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Range: Thornton Peak region, Queensland, Australia


Known along with D. adelae, D. buubugijin, and D. schizandra as the four Sisters of Queensland, this species is sometimes referred to as the “hen and chicks sundew” for its interesting propagation methods. Endemic to only a small region of coastal north Queensland on the eastern coast of the Cape York Peninsula, it grows at elevations of 0-1300 meters in mountain rainforest/cloud forest regions along seeps and running streams in rocky or mossy, sandy soils, usually in dappled to fairly heavy shade in the canyons and drainages of Thornton Peak. These regions sometimes, though rarely, dry out briefly in the dry season, but are typically locations that remain moist year round. Plants may reach an average of 6-8 cm in diameter, though can reach more than 14 cm across in some cases, with a sparse rosette of erect to semi-erect, paddle-shaped leaves. Petioles are thin, linear, and up to 5 cm in length, while the lamina are broad and reniform to rounded, up to 3 cm wide. Leaves tend to form shorter petioles and broader lamina in shadier conditions. Coloration varies with lighting, ranging from completely green in heavy shade to olive with red tinges, to even almost bloody-red flushed with crimson tentacles in strong sun. Inflorescences are unique, growing up to 20 cm long and glabrous, with up to 8 or so broadly spaced blooms. The flowers are barely 0.5 cm in diameter, with roughly obovate, deep red-purple petals. Seeds are rarely produced even when cross-pollinated, but the tip of these inflorescences naturally develop new plantlets once they are finished flowering; plantlets may also appear along the length of the stalk. This results in rapid colonization of new spaces, making the species aptly named. D. prolifera is unlikely to be confused with any of its relatives or any other species of sundew.


Cultivation: grow in a 2:1 perlite/peat mix or a partially long-fiber sphagnum mix, kept very moist but preferably never sopping wet and very humid, with temps of 60-75°F, year round. Grow in bright artificial light to dappled sun; if exposed to stronger light, stable cool temperatures and high humidity are essential. If seeds are ever produced, sow immediately on suitable soil.


Lifespan and reproduction: perennial. Reproduces through flower stalk plantlets and, very rarely, seeds, and can also be grown through leaf and flower stalk cuttings.


Sources: Carnivorous Plants of Australia Magnum Opus Vol. 2, Allen Lowrie

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The minute reddish flowers of D. prolifera

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When grown under strong light, D. prolifera can develop deep red color.

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