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Drosera spatulata var. spatulata

D. spatulata Gold Coast, Queensland.jpg

D. spatulata "Gold Coast, Queensland Au." This form develops distinctly elongate leaves.

Range: New Zealand, Tasmania, eastern Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Indochina, China, Hong Kong, and Japan


Possibly the best known, one of the easiest to grow, and most widespread subtropical sundew, this plant is found in both temperate and tropical regions from New Zealand to Japan. It is an inhabitant of a variety of habitats in permanently moist, sandy, peaty, or rocky locations, from sea level to over 2000 meters in elevation. Plants of this form are highly variable (though much of this variability may be due to cryptic species currently lumped into this one species, and may in the future be separated or re-recognized), ranging from barely 2-10 cm in diameter; description here will cover the typical versions: leaves may be flat or semi-erect, possessing no petiole to a slender petiole less than a third the length of the entire leaf, typically glabrous adaxially and mildly indumentous abaxially. Lamina are typically narrowly to broadly cuneate or semi-spathulate, heavily tapered (forms from the Macau and Hong Kong regions of Asia may have broader hairier petioles and nearly rotund lamina that meld into them). Coloration may be almost entirely green, to brilliantly red throughout.  Inflorescences may reach barely 5 to almost 20 cm high, and are typically sparsely glandular in the lower portions, more heavily glandular with glands also present onto the sepals in the upper portions. Flowers may number from 1-30, with semi-oblong sepals with acute tips and range from 1-3 cm in diameter with obovate to ovate petals sometimes with flattened tips that can be pure white through to brilliantly pink in color. This species is often confused in cultivation and in the wild with D. tokaiensis, from which it can be distinguished by having thinner, more floriferous but fewer inflorescences, narrower sepals with sharper tips, less rounded petals with flatter edges, more elongate tapered lamina (in the forms with rounder lamina the petioles tend to be more distinct or shorter), and naturally produced D. tokaiensis have pink flowers while spatulata may be more variable.

The form D. spatulata var. lovellae is not considered valid and does not differ significantly from the type form. Similarly a plant described as D. spatulata var. loureirii/loureiroi is now considered to represent the unnamed polyploid sp. Lantau Island, derived from a spatulata x oblanceolata hybrid. This taxon should be recognized as a new species similar to the origin of D. tokaiensis, but the recognition has not gained proper publication or general acceptance (initial F1 oblanceolata x spatulata hybrids are sterile, supporting that Lantau is of polyploid origin and a new established population).

Forms from New Zealand are distinctly different from the other var. spatulata variations, some once classed as separate species and likely to be again as they in some populations have a differing chromosome count (2n=20 rather than 2n=40), and may have longer or more distinctive narrow petioles and lamina that are more compact and obovate, broadly cuneate, or rounded, with flower stalks that may or may not be glandular and, in some like the alpine forms, may only produce 1-2 large flowers. Though some may at a glance also be similar to D. tokaiensis, they do not occur together in nature and these spatulata forms nearly always have either white flowers or narrower lamina.


Cultivation: grow in a pure peat or 1:1 peat/perlite or sand soil, kept very moist to waterlogged and humid, with temps of 60-95°F year round. For plants from temperate locations, allow pot to dry to moist and place in a cold area for 3 months in winter if they show signs of dormancy (may not require it). Sow seeds on soil surface, and grow in strong artificial light to full sun.


Lifespan and reproduction: perennial. Reproduces through seed, and can be grown through leaf cuttings and division.


Sources: Nakano, M., Kinoshita, E., and Ueda, K. (2004). Life history traits and coexistence of an amphidiploid, Drosera tokaiensis, and its parental species, D. rotundifolia and D. spatulata (Droseraceae). Plant Species Biology 19: 59-72.

D. spatulata Ivan's 3-Way Australian Form flower.jpg
D. spatulata Ivan's 3-Way Australian Form.jpg

D. spatulata "Ivan's 3-Way Australian Form." Technically a hybrid between varieties, this form combines var. spatulata from Wentworth Falls and Woronorra River, crossed with var. gympiensis to produce plants similar to the latter but with somewhat more vigor, and variation in flower color from white to pink.

D. spatulata Royal Natl. Pk. Sydney.jpg
D. spatulata Royal Natl. Pk. Sydney flower.jpg

D. spatulata from Royal National Park, Sydney Au. This form tends to stay small for me, with squat flat rosettes and brilliant pink flowers.

D. spatulata 'Tamlin' flower.jpg

D. spatulata 'Tamlin' flowers.

D. spatulata Ahipara Gumfields, NZ.jpg
D. spatulata white flower.jpg

D. spatulata "white flower." The origin of this form is unknown beyond likely Australia; it grows large with semi-erect leaves when fully mature, similar to the 'Tamlin' cultivar but without the distinctive sharp bends in the leaves.

D. spatulata Ahipara Gumfields, NZ pink flower.jpg

D. spatulata  "Ahipara Gumfields, NZ -pink flower." The identity of this form is somewhat in question still, but the growth habit remaining rarely more than an inch with a distinctive petiole fits known tendencies of some New Zealand forms, more so than similar dwarf Australian forms.

D. spatulata Denniston Plateau, NZ.jpg

D. spatulata "Denniston Plateau, NZ." This is one of several forms from New Zealand that don't fit the standard description of the type for the species, with round lamina on long petioles, 2n=20 chromosome count, and glabrous flower stalks with small white blooms.

D. spatulata white flower x 'Tamlin'.jpg

D. spatulata  "white flower" x 'Tamlin'. A cross made to enhance the vigor of both parent forms, while retaining a similar shape.

D. spatulata Beenak, Victoria Au flower.jpg
D. spatulata Beenak, Victoria Au.jpg

D. spatulata  from Beenak, Victoria Au. This form turns deep red with brilliant pink flowers, and tends to stay as a small to medium-sized rosette.

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