Species Focus: Byblis rorida
When it comes to carnivorous plants, many species don't feature their own common names; this one is no exception. However, in my own personal opinion, the scientific names they possess are often more than poetic enough to stand on their own (and far more fun to say, especially around people who have no clue what you're talking about :D ). Byblis of course derives from the Greek myths of the daughter of a goddess who, in her mourning of a love she could not have with her twin brother (cringe!) turned into a fountain, and rorida translates from Latin as "dewy." While all Byblis are certainly very dewy plants, not just the leaves but also flower stalks and stems liberally coated in sticky glistening glands, this species takes it one step further.
B. rorida is closely related to the far more familiar B. liniflora, as evidenced by the upright, relatively short main stem and erect to shrubby appearance it takes on. Unique to this species however are a set of three very special traits that make it a fascinating plant to grow. First and foremost, the one from which this species derives its name and which I don't have the equipment to photograph, is the liberal coating of unique sessile glands across all developing parts of the plant. This includes growing leaves, flower stalks and buds, and the entirety of the apical growth point, such that at the right angle in light or under a microscope, the top of the plant looks like it glistens from a myriad tiny dewdrops underneath the larger stalked glands.
Secondarily are the brilliant flowers for which this genus is also known. In most of the species, the petals are relatively entire along their margins, the edges perhaps a little bit crenate or serrated right at the tips.
B. rorida however takes the serrated trait to the extreme. The ovular petals are heavily serrated to the point of looking like they possess toothy projections around the edges of the entire distal half, as if someone cut out sections of the tips and left them ragged and sharp. Combined with the bright purple-mauve color, this produces a rather artistic appearance.
The third unique trait of this species also comes from the flowers:
Seen best in the above photo the sepals of each flower are covered in long, almost spiky looking semi-glandular hairs. These hairs are nowhere near as dewy as the familiar stalks glands on the rest of the plant, so when in bud they give each flower the appearance of being protected by either a case of spikes or perhaps just a bad hair day :). Also visible in the above photo, like some other species of rainbow plant the rear side of the petals in this species are quite the contrast to the purple front. Official descriptions say the color of the back should be white, but at least in this form in my grenhouse, the color looks almost creamy yellow. The serrations at the petal tips, too, appear to extend as grooves or dark striations down the length of the petal as well, giving it an interesting textured appearance.
While growing this species, I came to notice one other trait that I could not find in the similarly flowering B. guehoi (at least not yet), nor that I could read in the species description from Allen Lowrie's Magnum Opus books. In the above photo, one can see the fuzzy outlines of tiny glandular hairs on both surfaces of the petals. While it's not uncommon for flowers to have hairs on them (perhaps to catch pollen from visiting insects or some other purpose), these look like miniature versions of the longer trapping tentacles that cover the rest of this little plant. What purpose they pose for the plant, I don't yet know.
B. rorida "Taylor's Lagoon" is so far the only form of this species that I have managed to successfully grow more than one plant to flowering size. The Lake Campion form is far more common, but so far has given me much more of a headache. Once, I achieved a bloom on a single specimen; even now the two I have growing are barely putting along, and only one looks promising. Why, I have no clue.
Taylor's Lagoon however is a gem. These plants are currently about 14 cm tall, and a lovely maroon red shade throughout. Both of these plants were germinated using a 10% bleach solution to treat the seeds, though now that I've gotten both to bloom and hopefully seeds on the way from them I plan on sticking to a more standard GA3 treatment. I hope that I can encourage the Lake Campion plants to come round and mature as well, as I would like to compare the two locales to see how similar they are. And, as I have them both blooming now, I would love to cross this form with the much larger B. guehoi to see what results.