Drosera capensis 'Alba'
Introducing Drosera capensis 'Alba' - The Enchanting White Cape Sundew
Drosera capensis 'Alba' is a captivating form of the Cape sundew, originating from the Cape of South Africa. Unlike other forms, 'Alba' lacks the red pigment, showcasing all-white hairs. This perennial herbaceous plant produces strap-like leaves that can reach up to 1.4 inches in length (excluding the petiole) and 0.2 inches in width. As with all sundews, these leaves are adorned with brightly colored tentacles that secrete a sticky mucilage, effectively trapping arthropods. Forming a rosette with a diameter of 7 to 10 inches, Drosera capensis 'Alba' exhibits numerous reddish glandular eruptions on elongated leaves, measuring 2.8 inches in length and 0.2 inches in width.
In its native habitat in South Africa, this enchanting sundew blooms during the summer months of December and January. Its racemose inflorescences can grow up to 14 inches tall, bearing over 50 pale-violet flowers that are more than 0.8 inches in size. The flowers of 'Alba' have the remarkable ability to self-pollinate upon closing, resulting in the production of abundant quantities of very small, spindle-shaped seeds. These seeds are released from the capsules formed after the flowers have withered. Drosera capensis 'Alba' thrives in locations with full sun exposure and nutrient-poor, waterlogged, and lime-free soils, displaying its adaptability to challenging growing conditions.
When insects become trapped, the leaves of Drosera capensis 'Alba' roll lengthwise toward the center, facilitating digestion by bringing more digestive glands into contact with the prey. Within an hour, the leaf fully envelops the ensnared prey, while the tentacles continue to move, further securing the capture. Digestion of the prey takes well over 6 hours from the moment of entrapment. It is worth noting that this sundew tends to retain dead leaves from previous seasons, and over time, the main stem can grow long and woody.
The captivating digestive secretions produced on the tentacles of Drosera capensis 'Alba' entice and lure unsuspecting insects. The shining secretion acts as a visual signal, particularly in sunlight, and the red tentacle tips further enhance its allure. Additionally, the secretion serves as a chemical attractant, enticing insects to draw closer.
When a victim becomes ensnared in the secretion, the tentacles near the prey bend towards it until a portion of the leaf, covered in tentacles, wraps around the animal. Secreted enzymes initiate the digestion process, gradually breaking down the insect until only chitin remains. Nutrient absorption occurs through the red tips of the tentacles, where the secretion itself is produced. If the victim decomposes to a point where the plant cannot extract further nutrients, the leaf and tentacles return to their original position, ready to capture their next prey.
To provide optimal care for Drosera capensis 'Alba,' it is recommended to place the plant in full sun and ensure that it sits in a dish with approximately 2 inches of water at all times. This carnivorous plant is not cold hardy and should be protected from freezes to maintain its well-being. Moreover, Drosera capensis 'Alba' is a suitable choice for terrariums with proper lighting, offering a captivating and unique element to these enclosed environments.
Embrace the enchantment of Drosera capensis 'Alba' and witness the fascinating interactions between nature and unsuspecting prey. With its mesmerizing appearance, captivating trapping mechanisms, and adaptable nature, this sundew is a remarkable addition to any carnivorous plant collection or the magical world of terrariums