Native to Africa, Madagascar, and South America, these carnivores are related to Pinguicula and Utricularia, but their traps are like no other. Genlisea grow as an amphibious species, and sometimes terrestrials, in wet, peaty, sand. They are found in tropical regions. Genlisea produce leafy stalons above the soil surface, which, unlike most Utricularia, grow in a rosette. These stalons reach lengths from one to three inches long. However, it is Genlisea’s subterranean traps that make them unique among carnivorous plants. The traps range in size of two to six inches in length and resemble a two-pronged corkscrew, hence the name, corkscrew plant. The trap structure is relatively complex. From the base of the plant, hollow stalks penetrate deep into the soil. About halfway down, the stalk swells into a hollow “stomach”, a digestive chamber. The trap then continues as a hollow tube, until it promptly forks into two prongs. At the base of the fork there is a slit that continues down the length of both prongs in which tiny creatures, such as protozoa, enter at any point. They cannot escape because of stiff hairs, similar to the hairs of Darlingtonia, force them to continue to the “stomach”, where they are digested by aid of digestive acids.
The blooms of Genlisea rival that of orchids. They are small and colored yellow, violet, white, and combinations of the colors.
There are about twenty known species
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* * *The Species
G. africana- This species is native to a large area in Africa.
G. angolensis- This species is native to Angola.
G. aurea- Endemic to Brazil, this yellow flowered species is unusual in that it produces thick mucilage over its stalons. The purpose of this mucilage is unknown, but it is supposed that the mucilage protects the plant from snails and slugs. *
G. barthlottii- This species is native to upper Guinea.
G. filiformis- This minute, yellow, or sometimes, white flowered species is native to northern South America.
G. glabra- This species is native to Venezuela
G. glandulosissima-This species is native to Zambia.
G. guianenesis- Native to Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil, this species has purple flowers.
G. hispidula- This dark pink flowered species is native to Africa is a very variable plant.
G. lobata- This Brazilian species is white with a yellow throat patch. The upper half of the flower is blue.
G. margaretae- This species has extremely long traps for its size and is native to Madagascar, Zambia, and Tanzania. Its flowers are a reddish purple.
G. pallida- This Zambian species has yellow flowers.
G. pygmaea- This yellow flower plant is native to South America.
G. repens- Also native to South America, this yellow flowered plant often grows alongside Heliamphora and Brocchinia.
G. roraimensis- This yellow flowered species is native to Venezuela.
G. sanariapoarra- This species from Venezuela has pinkish purple flowers.
G. stapfii- This West African species comes from the Ivory Coast. It has small stalons that are arranged neatly in a minute rosette. Its small and dainty flowers are purple.
G. subglabra-This species is from Congo and Zambezi in Africa. *
G. uncinata- This giant species is another species that is endemic to Brazil. Its flower stems can reach a height of about thirty inches and can be as thick as a pencil at the base.
G. violacea- Native to South America, the flowers of this species are a violet color.
* * * * *The Cultivation of Genlisea
Soil- Genlisea take well to a sandy peat mix. Pure peat moss or long fibered sphagnum also works well. *
Containers- Genlisea like to be waterlogged, so undrained containers are best for this plant. Drained containers also work well if they are sitting in a tray of water.
Water- Genlisea appreciate to be waterlogged.
Light- Part sun is best for Genlisea. Bright light encourages robust stalon growth.
Climate-As tropicals, Genlisea are used to warm and humid climates. Best kept above sixty but below ninety degrees.
Growing Environments- Genlisea thrive in the terrarium, hot house, and stove house.
Feeding-Introduce daphnia into water if your plants are grown aquatically. *
Fertilization- An occasional foliar feed benefits them greatly.
Transplanting- Can be done anytime.
Pests and diseases- Fungus may be a problem in dark and stagnant conditions.
Propagation- Leaf or trap cuttings are the easiest and fastest ways to get mature plants. Simply break a trap or leaf off and set it on moist peat moss. In a few weeks, plantlets will develop.
Seed is another way to propagate Genlisea, but mature plants take longer to develop. With a toothpick, collect some pollen from the ripe anthers, and dab it on the green stigma pad. A few days after successful pollination, the petals will fall of and the ovary will begin to swell. The pod will split after several weeks. Sow the seeds on damp peat moss in a warm, bright, and humid environment and germination should occur within a few weeks.