Cephalotus follicularis - the Albany Pitcher Plant / Western Australian Pitcher Plant
History and location:
Two names for one plant: Albany Pitcher Plant or Western Australian Pitcher Plant.
Cephalotus follicularis was discovered in 1791 during an expedition by Archibald Menzies. 1803 the plant get the Latin name Cephalotus follicularis by Labillardiere.
The Genus "Cephalotus" has only one Class "follicularis". This genus is not direct related to the American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia) or with the Tropical Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes).
You can find the plant near the customs of the southwest of Australia (The coastline with Cephalotus is about 400 km / 250 miles in length and 50 km / 30 miles in width) which has a Mediterranean climate. There are cool, moistly winters (Temperature between 10°C / 50°F and 20°C / 70°F, Rainfalls between 90-120 mm) and warm, dry summers (Temperature between 15°C / 59°F and 25°C / 75°F, Rainfall 25-60 mm).
At wet locations with light shading (high grass or small bushes) and sandy peat (pH-Value about 4.5) Cephalotus has colonized.
The Plant itself:
Cephalotus forms two different leaves: In summer and autumn the plant produces small (mostly about 3 cm / 1.2 inches - until 5 cm / 2 inches) pitchers.
At the end of autumn or at the beginning of winter the plant starts to produce until late spring "normal" green leaves.
The pitchers start to grow as small hairy balls at the end of a stalk. After developing of the pitcher the lid opens and the trap is ready to catch prey (Digestion fluids are also produced and inside the trap). Cephalotus produces own digestive fluids with enzymes. The prey is lured by sweet nectar.
The main part of the prey are ants. Sometimes also other scrawling insects are caught by the plant. The pitcher can get by enough sun light to dark red or purple color.
The green, oval winter-leaves are produced because of the shorter light period of a day. This leaves are perfect to do leaf cuttings.
The roots of Cephalotus start from a long main-steam. The root system arrives a depth of 15 cm / 6 inches. So it is recommend to use a big pot. A bigger pot lets the plant enough room for the roots and will thank you with more pitchers.
The white flowers (4 mm / 0.2 inches in diameter) are opened at the beginning of the summer. The plant produces a long flowering stalk (60 cm / 23 inches). The plant can do self pollination and produces until 10 seeds by each flower.
Cephalotus is a slow growing plant and it isn't an easy plant. So beginners should not try this plant.
You can cultivate your plant in a pot, bowl or a terrarium. It is important to know, that Cephalotus hates repotting. If you have to repot your plant (because of changing the soil after a few years) you should do it in the spring. Use a container with a minimum depth of 15 cm / 6 inches - better are 20 cm / 8 inches. At the habitat the soil is very sandy so you should note this by your soil-mixture. I decided to use 2/3 peat and 1/3 sand. Some people use in place of the peat also dried Sphagnum moos. It is recommend by the plant to have a humidity of about 60-75% and a permanent moisty soil. The soil shouldn't never dry out or be wet. Use only clean rainwater, purified water or distilled water with room temperature. The plant loves many light - so choose a south windowsill. In winter (shorten the light period) it could be recommend to have an addition light. Temperature: In summer the plant hates to have too much hotness (over 35°C / 95°F) and it also hates in winter a forgotten winter rest period (at 10-15°C / 50-60°F). In summer the recommend temperature is 20-25°C / 68-78°F - a small temperature sinking at night (about 5°C) is recommend. Do not use fertilizers - in most cases you plant will die. Pests are very rare - if there is a pest it will be aphids.
shortly after buying...
a bit later: Producing a new pitcher
Upper pic: The new pitcher is nearly finished.
Upper pic: The plant from the side; Pic downwards: The same plant from top.
This homepage was created by Martin Brunner (c) 2001-2006.
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