In The Revised Savage Garden, on page 173-4, I discuss the fascinating and mysterious sundew hybrid Drosera x hybrida. This is a natural cross that has been found a few times in the New Jersey Pine Barrens between D. intermedia and D. filiformis var. filiformis. It is a beautiful small sundew, reddish in color, usually about three to four inches high, with thread-like leaves that get a little broader towards their ends and stand upright. The flowers are of the palest pink and being a typical sundew hybrid, it is sterile. We have several of them growing in our outdoor bog at California Carnivores and they remind me of my youth growing up on the "Joisey Shore" not far from one location where they once grew, Lake Absegami.
I also discuss in my book the bizarre mutated plant, known as D. x hybrida 'Butterfly Valley'. Some original specimens of D. x hybrida were introduced to this valley in the Sierra mountains of California, where D. rotundifolia is present, and many cobra plants, Darlingtonia californica. Strangely, these plants underwent a mutation, possible due to frost while the plants were in flower, and apparently became fertile, producing occasional seed. You can see my discussion of this discovery in my book. We have finally produced a number of these plants by leaf cuttings, not seed. Many of these plants are mature and sending up flower stalks. Our original specimen of this Butterfly Valley clone was in the greenhouse, and the one time I checked for seed, there was none. It's possible it does not self-pollinate, and may need insect pollinators or wind to set seed. We shall see. They are going on sale now, and I'd like to know if any of our customers have luck with seed production. They are beautiful none-the-less, and easily propagate from leaf cuttings. Being temperate to cold-temperate, I recommend them for outdoors where winters are lightly to very frosty. One interesting possibility is that seed grow offspring may take a bit more after one parent or the other, so variety in the leaf shape may vary.
A very exciting thing for California Carnivores is the new thread-leaf hybrid we will shortly be releasing (some are ready now with more to come). The co-founder of the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, Joe Mazrimas, gave us a sample plant a couple of years ago, and I absolutely love it!!! It is an artificial cross between D. anglica and the thread-leaved sundew known as both D. filiformis var. tracyi or D. tracyi, which is native to the Florida pan-handle.
D. anglica, sometimes known as the English sundew, not only grows in the British Isles but also throughout the northern hemisphere in North America, being a primarily high latitude plant. It has elongated spoon-to-paddle shaped leaves, and is a green plant with red tentacles. D. tracyi has long filiform leaves that are nearly pure green.
Weirdly, and this often happens with hybrids, the cross of D. anglica x tracyi is a dark red plant, with long thin leaves to about five to six inches. And the leaves have the ability of movement, mostly near the ends, where they can fold up around hapless prey! Being a cross between a very cold-temperate sundew and a warm-temperate one, it's cold hardiness will need to be explored. It may survive happily in climates with very cold winters, as well as milder ones.
It was Steve Clemesha, a very long time grower of carnivorous plants in Australia, who made this cross in 2008 and sent Joe a sample. Steve had tried in vane to grow the elusive and difficult D. linearis, without success (like me!) since this Great Lakes species prefers mainly alkaline bogs with very frigid winters. He experimented, wanting to produce a plant with a similar look to D. linearis (which actually looks most similar to a small D. capensis 'narrow leaf' than anything else). The best clone he chose is the one we will be offering for sale. It has not yet been registered by Steve or Joe, but Joe suggested the name Drosera x 'Southern Cross' due to the location down under where this hybrid was made.