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Cephalotus follicularis

"The Albany Pitcher Plant"

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Found in a small corner of Western Australia, Cephalotus follicularis is a gem of a plant highly prized by Carnivorous plant collectors world wideThe genus Cephalotus has only one species and has no close relatives in the plant kingdom. Some variation exists between plants, most variations are in size and growth habit. The pictures above represent two distinct forms grown in our nursery. The left hand picture is the normal trap grown under strong sunlight, the right had picture is of a clone that remains green under the same conditions. Under low light all Cephalotus remain green.

Cephalotus follicularis produce passive pitchers from 2 to 5cm long and are mostly used to attract crawling insects, that once captured are unable to crawl out of the cleverly designed pods. The plant initially develops a fine fragile root system but will eventually develop underground rhizomes that will produce new plants a few centimetres from the adult. Insect eating traps are produced from spring to autumn and in winter the plant produces small flat green leaves. Flowers are produced on tall branching stems bearing small 6mm white flowers over the summer months. Flowers need to be pollinated but are self fertile and yield 1 seed per ovary with about 6 to 10 seeds coming from each flower.

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Flowers

Propagation is by seed, leaf cutting or division by dissecting the main plant or the rhizome. Cephalotus are relatively delicate and care must be taken at all stages of handling the plant. The use of systemic fungicides are crucial for success when dividing plants. Winter leaves can be removed and new plants can be grown from the stem of the leaf. The leaf should be eased from the plant without damaging the point where the leaf joins the trunk of the plant. It is from this point where the new plants grow.  Often it may take up to 6 months for the new plants to appear.

Cephalotus come from a cool climate and do not like the soil warming up too much, care must be taken in the warmer months so that the plant will not be damaged. Our plants in the nursery appear to accept a reasonable amount of heat in summer and are far easier for us to keep than Cobra Lilies. Shade levels of 50 to 75% are advisable for the warmer months and as much ventilation as possible to avoid heat build up on the media. The leaves appear to be able to handle a reasonable degree of heat provided the roots do not overheat.

The potting media should be peat moss or sphagnum moss or a combination of both. Care must be taken when repotting to handle the roots and rhizomes carefully avoiding any damage to either. If dividing the plant is required then the media should be drenched with a good fungicide (preferably systemic) after repotting. Once a plant is established it can be quite hardy and tolerate a wide range of conditions but to maintain good growth the best conditions possible are required. A plant can grow from a minute division to a 15cm cluster of 5cm traps in under 2 years but this is rare and can only occur in perfect houses.

In winter, the plant produced a small flat leaf and lost a number of its pitchers. In spring new pitchers form to begin the new seasons cycle of life and death.

Successful cultivation of a Cephalotus is an achievement to be proud of. A well grown pot of this beauty is an amazing sight and extremely rewarding.

 

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