Friday, 13 April 2012

National Carnivorous Plant Day

At a Special General Meeting the Carnivorous Plant Society voted on the idea of having a National Carnivorous Plant Day (NCPD), which originally came from a band of bell-ringers.

We loved the idea and a vote was made to make 2nd April the NCPD, to commemorate the start of the new growing season and the life of Scottish-Irish, Governor of North Carolina and naturalist, Arthur Dobbs (1689-1765). It was Dobbs who first made the iconic Venus Flytrap known to botany, in a letter to English cloth merchant and naturalist-collector Peter Collinson, dated April 1759:

"We have a kind of Catch Fly sensitive which closes upon anything that touches it..."

Dobbs also happens to been born on 2nd April.

Arthur Dobbs (1689-1765)

Dobbs is recognised in several respects: playing a significant role in British politics, in particular improving the fortunes of Ireland's poor economic climate; his search to find the Northwest Passage into the South Sea (Pacific), albeit ending in failure; his scientific study "Concerning Bees and their Method of Gathering Wax and Honey" (represented at the distinguished Royal Society); astronomical observation (Royal Society); the colonisation and expansion of Northern America; contributing towards driving the French from North America; and of course the formal discovery of the VFT.

In recognition of the day bell-ringers Sue Tobell, Annemarie Adams, Ian Hamilton, William Pannell and Angie Pannell (left to right below) will mark the day each year, ringing one of the following methods: Triffid Surprise Minor, Sundew or Pitcher.

The Society are looking for other suggestions to mark the day and your comments would be very welcome.

Carnivorous Plants of the British Isles

Did you know that at least 13 carnivorous plant species, and 3 natural hybrids, are native to the British Isles. Yes 13! One less species than it used to be following the apparent extinction of Pinguicula alpina from 1919 (Druce, G. C. 1932), which used to grow in Scotland. And here they are:

Temperate Perennial Drosera

D. anglica - Great or English Sundew
D. intermedia - Oblong-leaved Sundew
D. rotundifolia - Round-leaved Sundew

D. intermedia
D. anglica
D. rotundifolia

Natural Hybrids Dosera

D x obovata (D. anglica x D. rotundifolia)
D x beleziana (D. intermedia x D. rotundifolia)

Temperate Perennial Pinguicula

P. vulgaris - Common Butterwort
P. lusitanica - Pale Butterwort
P. grandiflora - Great, or Large-flowerted Butterwort
P. alpina - Alpine Butterwort

P. lusitanica
P. vulgaris
P. grandiflora

Natural Hybrids Pinguicula

P. x scullyi (P. vulgaris x P. grandiflora)

Temperate Aquatic Perennial Utricularia

U. minor - Lesser Bladderwort
U. australis - Wavy Bladderwort
U. vulgaris - Greater Bladderwort
U. intermedia - Intermediate or Flat-leaf Bladderwort
U. ochroleuca - Pale or Yellowish-white Bladderwort
U. stygia - Nordic, or Artic Bladderwort
U. bremii - Bladderwort

U. vulgaris

There are also a few P. grandiflora forms described in Ireland, with white, pale-lilac or purplish-pink flowers.

What is perhaps the most surprising is the number of aquatic Utricularia. Aquatic Utricularia are thread-like and rootless plants that grow as a long network of thin stolons (specialised horizontal shoots or stems) blessed with fine branching photosynthetic leaves. Small bladder-like traps, which give rise to the plant's common name form on both the stolons and leaves in varying abundance. By-and-large the British Utricularia inhabit quiet, open, shallow nutrient-deficient pools, ponds and ditches.