Back in 2015, 18 year old me visited the stunning Fiordland region of New Zealand’s South Island to do some hiking and find some sundews. This area is characterised by many mountains and valleys, carved by glacial activity over many millenia. We started our 4 day tramp (i.e. hike in English) at Te Anau, climbing into the ranges before descending into a valley and returning to town.
The trail started with a climb through some dense forest. At roughly 1000 m the mountain flattened out as we broke through the tree line. In this undulating, exposed alpine plateau, Drosera arcturi is found in great numbers colonising the seepages and bogs that form in the undulating topography.
The local form is coloured dark red with leaves that are impressively long and robust. The plants colonised cushion plants and moss beds and waterlogged herbfields, often achieving very high densities. Even in summer, temperatures at these altitudes and latitudes often dip below freezing at night – a true testament to the resilience of this alpine adapted species which thrives in these harsh environments.
As the trail progressed back into the valleys, D. spatulata and D. binata started appearing in patches of sphagnum moss in the boggier areas. The New Zealand forms of D. spatulata are quite different to the Australian plants I’m used to seeing in that they have long strappy petioles which abruptly transition to a rounded lamina. Perhaps genetic analysis is warranted to see how closely (or distantly) related the two forms really are.
Drosera binata in New Zealand are typically the ‘T-form” variety, with single bifurcations in each leaf. Of course, these are just general guidelines as the leaves of larger plants often split more times. The NZ form is truly stunning, forming robust upwards pointing leaves in the most vivid red colouration.