Drosera falconeri Species Profile

Drosera falconeri Species Profile

Drosera falconeri is a species within the section Lasiocephala (Petiolaris complex) endemic to the Darwin area of the Top End. The species is famous for its almost circlar laminae, which are bright red and often noted for their similarity to the traps of the venus fly trap.

D. falconeri grows around 5 cm in diameter. During the wet season, the ground-hugging leaves are produced with large reniform laminae that are positioned at the end of a broad petiole. These leaves are arranged in a slightly overlapping manner, with the plant often forming a circular profile.

As the wet season ends, the plants tend to form smaller leaves or stops producing leaves altogether as it begins storing energy for dormancy. Unlike most other species in the Petiolaris complex, D. falconeri does not form an insulating resting bud. Instead it retreats underground as a resting corm beneath the dried clay substrate. The species is amongst the first in the subgenus to enter dormancy, immediately initiating the process when the rains stop.

D. falconeri grows in the floodplains of major rivers south west of Darwin and on Bathurst Island. These floodplains are very wet at the height of the wet season and are mainly occupied by a thick covering of tall grasses. The species grows in a grey sandy silt substrate, which is pliable when wet but dries rock hard. Although it is a common belief that the substrates are alkaline, my own sampling of the top soil show an acidity of around pH 5.

The species is a member of the Petiolaris complex and can hybridise with them. It appears most closely related to D. kenneallyi, which shares a similar niche (flooded grassy plains at the edge of swamps), reniform laminae (much smaller in D. kenneallyi) and growing habit (lack of hairy resting bud). The species is easily distinguished from its relatives by its large laminae.

A plant beginning to enter dormancy. Note the large, reniform laminae.
A dormant plant
Habitat of an almost dormant plant amongst grasses in grey sandy silt.
The grassy floodplain habitat of D. falconeri
Details of a specimen just before dormancy
Soil pH testing of two sites.
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