30 March 2012

The shield sundew

Encouraged by a Facebook post from California Carnivores and on a whim I decided to get my first tuberous sundew a few months ago. These are plants with a decidedly curious habit unfamiliar to those of us where winter normally equals dormancy. During the winter, more accurately described as the wet season, the plant will spring up out of the soil and produce first a flat rosette of leaves and then begin to bolt, sometimes attaining a height of 50 cm. Once the high heat normally associated with the Australian dry season arrives, the plant withers and retreats to a tuber some 4 to 6 cm underground. I suppose this unfamiliar habit is the reason why tuberous sundews get the reputation of being quite difficult to maintain - they must be kept wet but not soaked in the winter and nearly bone dry in the summer. Luckily, California Carnivores occasionally stocks Drosera peltata, the shield sundew, so named for the shield-shaped leaves, reportedly one of the easiest tuberous sundews to grow. A beginner's plant, if you will.

So far, I'm thrilled with it! I just hope that I'm able to keep the tuber viable through the summer.

As a bonus, I also received the above dainty flowering plant, Utricularia bisquamata. Known as a prolific weed of the carnivorous plant world, I'm not sure if I should torch it or try to contain it. If I don't do something, it is nearly guaranteed that it will end up taking over every single pot in my collection.

17 March 2012

Berry Go Round #49

Oops. Looks like I've been neglecting the link-back duty. At the end of February, Bora Zivkovic over at A Blog Around The Clock posted the results of all submissions from February botany-related posts. Among the gems this month were not one but two (Elizabeth Preston and Ed Yong, respectively) discussions of the news that scientists were successful in resurrecting a living plant from seed tissue hidden away by squirrels 30,000 years ago. And then there's the provocatively-titled Are Sheep Better at Botany than the US Government? by Jason G. Goldman of The Thoughtful Animal. And you must not miss the wonderful post by Colin Beale, The paradox of the prickly: Why grow thorns if they don't work? at one of my favorite group blogs, Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! And for the chemically-minded, there's a great post by Andrea Wills titled, Why "Natural" isn't always better: almond extract and cyanide.

Well, you get the point. Go check them all out! And if you have any plant-related posts, consider submitting them or nominating someone else's for the March compilation, which will be hosted by Greg Laden over at ScienceBlogs.