Drosera regia is a South African carnivorous plant that gets its name from the Greek word drosos, meaning dew, and the Latin word for royal.
It is a temperate perennial species from South Africa and is very rare in the wild.
Arguably the most endangered South African species it only occurs in a small valley in the Bain’s Kloof area of the Western Cape Province. Here it grows in marshy conditions amongst high grasses, other herbaceous plants and evergreen shrubs.
Drosera regia is known to have only two populations in this area, one at about 800 m a.s.l. and the other at about 1000 m a.s.l. The plants on these locations vary slightly from each other in general size, though this feature is still under study.
This sundew behaves more or less like its counterparts from the Northern Hemisphere in that it forms a compact rosette of leaves that are greatly reduced in size during winter.
Drosera regia has large sword shaped leaves that are placed in a rosette and can be up to 70 cm in length. Consequently, it is capable of catching relatively large pray. Leaves are highly mobile and can fold upon themselves.
Flowers are pink and large and occur in January- February on scapes up to 40 cm high that emerge vertically from the plant. Most scapes have two primary branches with 5 to 20 flowers.
D. regia has three features that make this plant (together with D. arcturi of Australia and New Zealand) the most ancestral Drosera’s around. Firstly its woody and creeping rhizomes that are not found in other relatives except of course D. arcturi. The second feature is that its flowers cape lacks circinate (spring-like) vernation and the last unique feature is its operculate (with a cap) pollen.
Cultivation is difficult. The plants need a deep pot with a good draining mixture and a light growing spot. Lower temperatures in winter and a temperature drop during the night are also needed for long-term cultivation.
As stated, D. regia is among the most endangered species of sundew. During recent visits no plants have been found at the upper location, while the lower altitude location was down to about 50 mature plants. This is mostly caused by lack of natural fires on which the ecosystem on this location thrives, but with only two populations this species was already rare to begin with.Saddly, it seems to be almost impossible to artificially burn this area due to very high risk for those, that try to do it and for the people living in the surroundings of the mountains. The situation is for the species is severe. If nothing changes, the plants will die out in a few years.
Therefore it is of paramount importance that all lineages of D. regia are retained in cultivation and propagated to preserve the genetic variation of this species. If you grow distinct, known origin strains of D. regia 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. regia, 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.
Thanks to Dr. Andreas Fleischmann for providing the flower picture from his cultivated plants!