Cephalotus is a genre which contains one species, Cephalotus follicularis, a small carnivorous pitcher plant. The pit-fall traps of the improved leaves have stimulated the common names for this plant, which include “Albany pitcher plant”, “Western Australian pitcher plant”, “Australian pitcher plant”, or “fly-catcher plant”.
Cephalotus follicularis is a tiny, low growing, herbaceous species. Perennial leaves show from subversive stems, are simple with an entire leaf edge, and rest close to the ground. The insectivorous leaves are petite and have the look of moccasins, forming the “pitcher” of the collective name. The pitchers grow a dark red color in high light levels but remain green in cooler conditions. The foliage is a basal organization that is carefully settled with external-facing modified leaf blades. These leaves give the main form of the species a height around 200 mm.
The “pitcher” trap of the species is comparable to other pitcher plants. The peristome at the entry of the trap has a spiky arrangement that permits the prey to go in, but obstructs its escape. The cover over the entry, the operculum, stops rainwater incoming the pitcher and therefore weakening the digestive enzymes inside. Insects imprisoned in this digestive fluid are consumed by the plant. The operculum has luminous cells which confound its insect prey as they seem to be spots of sky.
The inflorescence is groupings of little, hermaphroditic, six-parted, regular flowers, which are milky, or whitish.
In the cooler months of winter (down to about 5 degrees Celsius), they have a natural dormancy period of about 3 to 4 months, triggered by the temperature drop and reduced light levels.
Contrasting with most insectivorous plants which develop only one type of leaf, Cephalotus have two extremely dissimilar kinds of leaves: the non-carnivorous leaves and the pitcher leaves. In premature Spring, non-carnivorous leaves start to grow as the days stretch. Numerous of these plane, spear-shaped, hairy, bright-green leaves will arise from each ornament growing point. These non-carnivorous leaves will last for about a year and decline just afore the new leaves appear the subsequent Spring. The most probable purpose of the non-carnivorous leaves is to offer a lift in liveliness from photosynthesis before developing more carnivorous pitchers.
As Spring changes to Summer, the carnivorous pitchers commence establishing. They start out appearing like little hairy doorknobs at the end of large petioles. Gradually, they expand to convert into a pitcher trap. Pitchers can be up to 5 cm (2 inches) in size, but are more commonly 2cm to 4cm (1 to 1.5 inches), and will rest on the ground with their “mouths” facing away from the center rosette growing point. Sometimes there are materialized leaves that are in a space between carnivorous and non-carnivorous. Various people believe that these pitchers provide a clue about how the complicated pitchers progressed.
Underneath the loam, Cephalotus have thin, stiff roots. Young plants have roots that are narrow and brittle, but the root system will ultimately mature into dense and diverging dissident stems that will form plants next to the mother plant.
The traps are diminutive and plump with three hairs on the top and three beams on the front of the pitcher. These three beams ruled with hairs almost definitely direct insects to the mouth for their final passing. There is a flamboyant, white-striped, furry top (also called the “window”) that decorates the top of each pitcher. Akin in appearance to Sarracenia minor and Darlingtonia, the color of the cover perhaps aids to draw bugs to the pitcher. The cover extends the mouth of the pitcher and assistances to stop them from stuffing up with water, which would make the trap incapable to imprison prey. The mouth of the pitcher has a well-built edge with about 24 spars or teeth. This distinctive border and teeth give it an alike appearance to pitchers of some species of Nepenthes. The spined spars arc over the lip of the pitcher and end in a sharp point fixed down into the pitcher. Nectar glands cover the bottom of the cover and the surface of the pitcher, excluding the lip.
The top of the pitcher tube has a useful feature in that it is fairly funnel-like with a widespread, dense collar just beneath the lip that ledges the well of digestive fluids lower. This collar is dazzling white in color and its exterior is covered with microscopic outcrops that point downhill. This collar with downward-pointing projections is slippery and bugs will glide off the surface into the well. The fact that the collar is pendulous makes any escape effort from inside the pitcher virtually impossible. Any insect struggling to escape will ultimately tire and drown, being slowly dissolved in the digestive fluids.
Within the pitcher, there are many dome-like glands that stash the greater part of the fluid that fills the pitchers. On the inside of the pitcher wall, there is a kidney-shaped area, magenta-black in color, covered with tiny glands. In green pitchers, this kidney-shaped area can be seen from the outside of the pitcher. The apparent function of these glands is to secrete digestive enzymes.
In middle to late summer, mature Cepahalotus will flower. The stems are rather long for such a tiny plant, reaching 60 cm (24 inches) or more in length. Similar to Venus Flytraps, that also have long, tall flower stalks, the Cephalotus wants to have possible pollinators at a safe expanse from its traps. The flowers are extremely small, about a quarter-inch transversely, and have no petals. The petals are pale green or white in color. Flowers need to be fertilized, but Cepahalotus is self-fertile and harvest one seed per ovary with 6 to 10 seeds per flower. Seeds are small, yellow in color, and quite hairy.
Seeds should be propagated instantly once gathered because the capability of the seed is short-lived. Stratification studies have been done that differ the time of stratification from none to eight weeks. There was no noteworthy variance in sprouting rate of stratified seed as associated to seed propagated fresh. Additional, most plants that set seed in the summer, like the Cephalotus follicularis and Dionaea muscipula almost surely do so to give their descendants a chance to sprout and get settled before winter and dormancy arrive.
The native range of the Cephalotus is about 250 miles long and 50 miles wide stretching from Augusta to Cape Riche. Like nearly all carnivorous plants, it is usually set up in wet leakages. It favors loam that is boggy and sandy, with good drainage. The weather in this part of extreme south-western Australia is Mediterranean-like. Summers are warm with an average high of 25°C (77°F) and sporadically hot weather getting over 40°C (100°F). Winters are cool, mild and wet with temperatures hardly dropping lower than 5°C (40°F) and only the infrequent frost.
Where to grow
Cephalotus is theoretically a warm-temperate plant and is capable of bearing a slight frost, so if you live in zones with a similar weather, you could grow your plant outdoors. If you live in rather colder zones than described, you could grow your plant in a cold edge with other temperate plants. Or else, grow your plant indoors as a tropical houseplant. A terrarium is not obligatory.
Cephalotus has the status of being fussy when it comes to heat. Most people believes, during their initial practice with Cephalotus, that it won’t tolerate temperatures above 32°C (90°F). Still, through much trial and error, one can make a whole lot of discoverings about the plant, such as that one drop in nighttime temperature inferior to 21°C (70°F) is indispensable if day temperatures are too warm. Cephalotus would experience this type of temperature cycle, with warm days and cool nights, in its native habitat.
Cephalotus necessitates fractional to full sun. Grow it in a location where it can collect around 4 or more hours of uninterrupted sunlight and bright streamed sunlight through the rest of the day. The cooler direct morning sun is ideal.
If a sunny window is not conceivable, use a couple of 40-watt fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent bulbs of similar productivity. Retain the light foundation approximately 8 inches above the plant. The light should be on for 14 hours during spring and summer, and 12 hours during fall and winter. Evade using incandescent bulbs, they produce too much heat and the wrong type of light scale. Even incandescent “grow-lights” are unsuitable for carnivorous plants.
In cultivation, Cephalotus favors soggy, saturated earth instead of drenched earth. Their water partialities are similar to those of Nepenthes and Heliamphora. If you have other plants and keep to a steady watering agenda, you can include Cephalotus in your routine, top spraying it and emptying it into a tray or bowl. The loam should be humid at all times and never permitted to dry out. You can otherwise keep Cephalotus in a tray with the water level no higher than ¼ of the way up the pot. This offers the roots dampness and ventilation. However, if the water level is too high for too long (if the crown of the plant is closer than 4 or so inches to the water table) the roots may surrender to rot.
Cephalotus is also very delicate to water with melted mineral levels of 50 ppm or more, so use mineral-free water every time possible.
Like other types of tropical pitcher plants, Cephalotus is tolerant of a variety of mixes as long as it is nutrient-free and well-drained. Our favorite mix is equal parts sphagnum moss and perlite. This mixture provides excellent drainage and aeration. Never use conventional potting soil, compost, or fertilizer. They will kill your plant.
In its natural habitat, Cephalotus will go through a winter rest of around three months throughout which time the day temperatures are cooler (13° – 21°C, 55° – 70°F) and daylight hours are shorter. It will remain to grow, but growth will slow down radically and the plant will harvest a great quantity of plane, non-carnivorous leaves.
Winter rest is an indispensable part of this plant’s care. Numerous cultivators have stated that their grownup Cephalotus that they’ve had for many years abruptly died for no obvious reason. Pressure connected to years of growing deprived of a winter rest might be the reason why.
If you are growing your plant in a window ledge, your plant will innately experience a winter rest by the reduction in daylight hours. Just make sure the plant is away from any strong warmth font, such as a heater or vent.
If you are growing your plant in a cold frame greenhouse, your plant will truly go dormant and stop growing completely. During its dormancy, it can stand brief episodes of a light frost. Use a radiator to maintain a slightest temperature of 2°C (35°F) if daytime temperature falls lower than freezing.
Cephalotus aversions having its roots bothered. Use a tall plastic pot that is preventively excessively big for its size. After that, replace the loam every other year. The best stage of the year to repot your plant is in late winter or early spring while the plant is in its winter rest.
Summary of caring tips
- Well-draining, nutrient-poor earth with decent ventilation is indispensable.
- Plenty of light will guide to a better plant. 4 or more hours of uninterrupted sunlight is suggested.
- Clean water with inorganic content less than 50ppm must be used (purified, rain water or reverse osmosis water only).
- Profound pots work best since they offer sufficient room for the roots to develop without having to stand in water.
- Temperatures should be kept mild (no freezing) and a drop in temperature during the hot summer days is essential
- Keep the soil moist at all times but never wet. Be very careful not to over water.
- Feeding is optional, but the plant will benefit from the occasional insect or being lightly fertilized.
- Watch for scale and fungus on Cephalotusand treat them appropriately when discovered.
- Propagate your plant vegetative through divisions and pulling so you can share them with your friends.
If you want to know more about carnivorous plants, I invite you to take a look at the following articles:
- Types of carnivorous plants.
- Learn how Saracenia is cultivated.
- How the Drosera is multiplied and how many species there are.
Following these tips will give you a well developed and colorful Cephalopods to decorate gardens and interiors.