Drosera capensis is a South African carnivorous plant that gets its name from the Greek word drosos, meaning dew, and the location where it naturally occurs, the Cape area of South Africa.
To the growers of carnivorous plants Drosera capensis might look like a strange addition to the Rare South African carnivorous plants collection as it is a commonly grown species and even a weed in most collections. Fact is however that most of these plants can be traced back to a limited number of plants, propagated by tissue culture. As a matter of fact, the very common white flowered 'Alba' form popped up as a tissue culture mutation and does not exist in the wild. The situation in the wild is very different and the plant is far less common. On top of that the species appears to be very variable and might at one point have to be divided in (sub) species.
Drosera capensis is known only from the Cape area in South Africa, specifically the Western Cape Province. It is widespread but not very common. Populations are very localized and usually rather small. This means that there is a great potential for genetic variation. However this variation has not made its way in to general cultivation as commercially available plants are produced from a limited number of wild populations.
Drosera capensis occurs on very wet spots which are at least moist at the peak of the dry season. The plant grows in places like seepage areas, the shores of lakes and streams, ditches and water filled depressions, in many cases even on vertical walls.
Though capable of growing in full sun, in the wild the plant prefers a slightly more shaded position and is often found on the darker South or Southeast side of mountains.
Drosera capensis is a stem forming evergreen species of perennial sundew. The height is variable, but usually around 15 cm. Leaves are strap-like and typically consists of lamina of up to 3,5 cm inlength attached to petioles of equal length. The lamina is about 0,5 cm wide and covered with brightly colored tentacles that secrete sticky mucilage to trap prey.
The leaves are very flexible and are capable of folding completely over their prey.
Flowers are five petaled and pink in color. Usually there are 15 - 30 of them on a single scape that grows up to 30 cm in length.
Many, but not all strains of D. capensis are capable of self pollination. In nature the plant flowers in December and January.
The plant has a short and, with age, a woody stem that is rhizomatous with well developed roots.
Cultivation is easy, as this is just about the toughest carnivorous plant in cultivation. Placed in a dish of rainwater in a sunny windowsill and provided with an acid growing medium (e.g. 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite) it will flower several times a year.
As said, D. capenis is much localized and therefore has the potential to be split in several (sub) species. Distinctly different strains have made it into cultivation and illustrate this variation. Some plants collected from the Bain’s Kloof area show a distinct growing habit, growing upon a base that turns woody with age in a way that is much more stem forming than is usual in this species. There are also very red colored plants in cultivation, simply referred to as D. capensis 'Red'. The plants originate from plants collected in the Gifberg area. Many more variation, some more noticeable than others, is to be found in this species.
It is of paramount importance that all lineages of D. capenis are retained in cultivation and propagated to preserve the genetic variation of this species. If you grow distinct, known location strains of D. capensis that are not in the Rare South African carnivorous plants Collection, and are willing to donate or sell plants, cuttings or seeds of legally cultivated plants to Ark of Life, please contact the Rare South African carnivorous plants Collection team through this contact page of this website.
If you cultivate D. capensis, but are unable to contribute material to the Rare South African carnivorous plants Collection, however would still like to help save this species, please register your plants with Ark of Life, so that we can develop a breeding program and record all different location forms of this endangered plant in cultivation.
Drosera capensis at at Gordon's Bay" Dam
Drosera capensis at Gifberg
Drosera capensis at Theewaterskloof Dam
Drosera capensis at Bain's Kloof
Drosera capensis at Bain's Kloof
Stipules of Drosera capensis
Flower of Drosera capensis from Montagu Pass
Seeds of Drosera capensis
Flower of Drosera capensis 'Albino'