Drosera arcturi on Mt Baw Baw

Drosera arcturi on Mt Baw Baw

In late January, I did an overnight hiking trip up the Baw Baw Plateau, in the Great Dividing Range 2 hours east of Melbourne. The hike takes you up above the winter snowline, into the alpine swamps high in the mountains.

In the subalpine plateaus of mainland Australia, large swamps often form in the depressions between mountain peaks. These swamps are predominately formed through the accumulation of sphagnum and an underlying layer of peat.

Drosera arcturi grows in ridiculous numbers in the subalpine swamps that form between the peaks. It especially likes to occupy the wet sphagnum adjacent to streamlets and ponds. This species is adapted for alpine conditions, growing during the warm spring and summer before reducing back to a dormant hibernaculum to rest in sub-zero temperatures. During summer, the average temperatures range from around 5-15 C, although it widely fluctuates between heatwaves and cold snaps. In winter, the region is often covered in heavy snow.

Drosera arcturi grows in sphagnum in swamps, often occupying exposed niches on the edge of streams and lakes.
The species grows right to the water line. After rain, some plants are even temporarily submerged.
When I visited in late January, this population had already long finished flowering.
Habitat shot for the alpine swamp. The lime green patches are exposed sphagnum where D. arcturi grows.

Interestingly, the specific epithet is not a reference to its ‘arctic’-cold habitat but to its type location of Mt Arthur in Tasmania.

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