Saturday, 24 December 2011

Carnivorous plants in Fiordland National Park


Kepler Track, Fiordland NP, South Island, New Zealand
17.12.2011

The bog area near Moturau Lake had a couple of display boards. In one of them it showed 3 sundew species: Drosera arcturi, D. spathulata and D. binata.  I had a good look around but found only the last two. The first one was D. spatulata, yes, the accepted spelling seems to be this one. I had already found it in Tongariro NP, on dark soil, but here was growing surrounded by moss.

Drosera spatulata surrounded by moss
Note the spoon shaped leaves and the tall flower stalks. Carnivorous plants bloom well away from their leaves, they do not want to trap their pollinators.

The other sundew was D. binata known as the fork-leaved sundew. It grew in small groups on the moss.

Fork-leaved sundew D. binata
Note that the central plant has a leaf with a freshly trapped green insect, other leaves have dark remains of previous meals, perhaps to be digested further.  

There were some intriguing little blue flowers sometimes in clusters which were also growing on a long stalk on the moss. They were rather difficult to photograph, below is my best attempt.

Delicate blue flower on a slender stalk
It looks as if there was another flower in the other stem....
At first I thought that this might be the blue orchid shown in the notice board, even though it did not look like an orchid flower to me.
I found out what it was purely by accident. When I was reading in Wikipedia about D. arcturi, the sundew that I didn't manage to spot, I read that "In New Zealand, D. arcturi is often found growing in clumps alongside Utricularia dichotoma.", I clicked on the button and out came this flower. I could not have been more thrilled with this coincidence.Very exciting!
As it turns out there was yet more to learn. I had come across a terrestrial bladderwort, a plant with very sophisticated bladders in their roots which catch small organisms that happen to pass by. Most bladderworts are aquatic plants but this one was growing in a very wet place, a slight transition perhaps?
For more about the mechanism of their bladders here is an excellent page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bladderwort#Carnivory    
It is just a shame that I never found D. arcturi, but it was an amazing swamp! 


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