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Thread: Utricularia dichotoma in the wild

  1. #1

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    Hi everyone,

    I've often found that some of the most interesting CP finds I have made have occurred in situations when I was not looking for or expecting them. I happened across another interesting find a few days ago which was totally unexpected.

    I was travelling to my wifes parents house at the town of Jamieson up in the Australian High Country along a road which I had travelled probably a hundred times before. Not far from their house I spotted a huge patch of purple flowers growing in a depression in grass on the side of the road below a farm dam.

    Instantly I thought/hoped they may be Utricularia flowers- probably U. dichotoma. After dropping my wife and daughter off at her parents house I headed back to check out the patch and get a few photos.

    After getting out of the car I noticed that the population had recently been mown to reduce the chance of wildfires which are prevalent in the region during summer. Luckily the mowing had occurred just before the scapes had emerged so none appeared to be damaged- except for the ones crushed by the wheels of the tractor.

    The plants were an intense purple. At first I thought I had discovered an immense patch of an outlying population of U. beaugleholei which typically have flowers of such an intense colour. As I reached the plants I realised they were a beautiful form of U dichotoma.

    After taking a few photos I thought that the seep that provided moisture year round to the plants may continue across the road into some native bushland. I crossed the road and headed downhill to a small waterhole. There were literally millions of plants growing around the edge of the water.

    As I looked closer I realised that there was at least 5 different flower colours and forms present. All other populations of U. dichotoma I have discovered in the past have shown very little variation. Occasionally you will come across a few interspersed white flowers but that is generally all.

    In this population there were actually patches of different colour forms in different spots, the prevalent colour being the typical purple you see in many other areas of eastern Australia. Other colours present were pink, very pale purple, blue and very deep purple. A bizarre form with scapes to only 10cms, very pale and 'scalloped' flowers was also present in one large patch. Another interesting feature of all plants were the palate ridges. Many plants had more than the typical 2 or 3 and many were elongated. The upper corolla lobes were larger than any other forms I have seen and the same colour as the lower corolla which is often not the case elsewhere. The 'skirts' of most plants were wider than the typical also.

    The final feature that I noted which differed from other plants seen in the past was the size of the leaves. They were over twice the size (length and width) of the typical. At first I thought that they were the leaves of another swamp plant.

    Of course I took plenty of photos but it was an extremely bright sunny day and the colours of many of the shots were bleached out a bit. I returned later in the evening to get some more shots when it was darker.

    It is interesting to note that the place where these plants grew is at an altitude of over 600 metres (feet- 2000?). It is not uncommon for this region to experience snow and extremely low temps in winter, so the plants would definitely prove to be tolerant of low temps in culture. Temps of over 40deg C (over 100F) are common in summer.

    Anyway, here are some of the shots-

    Firstly, a picture of the habitat. You can see the small waterhole. The plants are found on the edge of the water to the left. Mountains from the Alpine National Park can be seen in the distance-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma9%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A huge population of flowers of various colour forms-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma18%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A shot from near groundlevel-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma19%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A few plants with typical purple colouration-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma1%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A couple of typical coloured scapes together-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma15%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A blue form with elongated palate ridges-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma16%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A deep purple flowered form-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma5%20Jamieson%20101203.JPG[/img]

    A very pale blush pink flowered form-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma13%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A pink flowered form. The shot is a bit bleached but you can still see the colour, particularly of the flower to the right-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma20%20Jamieson%20081203.JPG[/img]

    A closeup of a purple flowered form with white palate ridges-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotoma3.JPG[/img]

    See below for more photos.

    Sean.

  2. #2

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    Next up is a another closeup. A beautiful blue/purple flower with white palate ridges and wide skirt-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotoma1.JPG[/img]

    Another shot of the same flower form as above-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotoma2.JPG[/img]

    A bizarre form that only grew to around 10 cms (4 inches). It had a scalloped form with pale flowers. This form grew in a patch a couple of feet in diameter-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/Utricularia%20dichotoma3%20Jamieson%20101203.JPG[/img]

    A finally a few comparison shots of individual flowers-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotomas.JPG[/img]

    This shot also includes a few other forms of U. dichotoma from different areas for comparison. U. beaugleholei is the flower at the top-

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotomas2.JPG[/img]

    And last of all a shot of U. dichotoma from the aforementioned location on the right and a typical form you will find in other areas around eastern Australia.

    [img]http://home.**********.com/seandew/images/U.%20dichotomas3.JPG[/img]

    Regards,

    Sean.

  3. #3

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    Sean,

    That is a fantastic find! What an amazing amount of variation in one small location. Hopefully you will be able to collet some seed (if that is allowed in the area) and bring some of those great forms into cultivation.

    Damon
    Nothing needs so reforming as other people's habits.
    -Mark Twain

  4. #4

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    I nominate Sean for Emporer! I live for photo's like this. WOW!!!! You found the pink flowered form! But what is going on with these plants to account for the profound variation seen here? Is there an intermediary form, possibly the small one you mentioned, that might have produced hybrids? Some of these details are far flung from typical U. dichotoma, much more than intraspecific variability would suggest.

    May I suggest that you seek herbarium placement for this material: such instances of variability are vital to the understanding of this species.

    Congratulations Sean. I am utterly blown away by yet another remarkable discovery.
    "Grow More, Share More"

  5. #5
    Moderator Colieo's Avatar
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    Have the conditions that these plants prefer to have to encourage flowering been foud? Seandew, could you perhaps explain the conditions the plants were growing in?

    Thanks,
    Cole [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]
    Duele no tenerte cerca, duele no escuchar tu voz. Duele respirar tu ausencia, pero, duele más decirte adiós.

  6. #6

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    Cole,

    The plants at the time of flowering were growing in very moist soil (water rises to the surface when you step on it, but is otherwise not apparent). It is summer here at the moment so the temps are causing alot of evaporation and I would imagine that a few months ago the plants would have been under around 10cms (4 inches) of water.

    Some plants were even found flowering on dry ground which would have been inundated not long ago. Drosera peltata var. foliosa was found growing amongst most of the population so I assume that most of the area will dry out completely by the end of summer.

    There were many seed capsules present and the flowers had passed their peak when I saw them. I would say that they would have commenced flowering possibly a month ago.

    In my opinion, the plants would have begun producing flowers just as the weather warmed up, the days began to get longer and the water level began to drop. A combination of all these factors is probably responsible for the mass flowering.

    All forms of the species that I have seen over the years in different areas grow in similar conditions and flower at around the same time. You will never see any flowers in winter.

    If you can emulate these conditions in your own collection it may be possible to achieve a similar mass flowering.

    So to recap, for U. dichotoma to flower profusely you should-

    1. Increase temps.
    2. Increase daylength.
    3. Reduce waterlevel.

    Regards,

    Sean.

  7. #7
    Moderator Colieo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input!

    Cole
    Duele no tenerte cerca, duele no escuchar tu voz. Duele respirar tu ausencia, pero, duele más decirte adiós.

  8. #8

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    Hey Sean,

    Spectacular find, beautiful pics -- congrats! I am always interested in seeing natural variation, especially because most people are used to cultivating their own little clone and think species are static.

    I was surprised with the differences at the abse of the lower lip in those 2 dichotomas. I don't know a thing about Australian Utrics, but I remember Allen Lowrie and/or Peter Taylor mentioning a population in WA. I don't remember the supposed parents, but I wonder if this is what is happening in this highly variable population you found, maybe with U.beaugleholei or anotehr species...

    Keep up the good work!


    Fernando

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