Description Of Plants

Byblis gigantea is an erect, shrub-like plant reaching heights of 28 in. (71 cm) having yellow to pale yellow-green leaves and grows from a rhizome. The plant usually has one main, aboveground stem, but older plants may develop more than one main stem and occasionally side branches. The long linear leaves taper to a point at the apex and can reach lengths of 12 in. (30 cm). In cross-section the base of the leaf is triangular with rounded edges but becomes almost circular in cross-section at the tip. Two kinds of glands clothe all the plant's aboveground surfaces. Tentacles are the stalked glands which produce the shiny, sticky mucilage that traps the prey. The sessile glands which produce enzymes to digest the prey are stalkless. (Photo 4-19)

Byblis liniflora is very similar to B. gigantea in structure except it is more refined and delicate. Its growth pattern is vertical until it reaches 6-12 in. (15-30 cm) at which height it tends to topple over and grow along the surface of the soil or on other plants. (Fig. 4-10) The plant may reach lengths of 35 in. (89 cm) in this growth habit. The individual leaves may attain lengths of 4 in. (10 cm). The tentacles and sessile glands, again, are the same as in B. gigantea but smaller and shorter.

Flowers

Flowers can reach diameters of 2 in. (5 cm) in Byblis gigantea and have petal color described as purplish red, lilac, magenta or reddish purple. The flowers are borne singly on scapes that arise from the leaf axils. The flowers open about midday and close in late afternoon; this process is repeated for several days. Flowers have 5 petals, 5 sepals and 5 stamens of unequal length that curve toward the pistil. (Photo 4-20) Flowering occurs in September, through December.

Floral structure is basically the same in B. liniflora as in B. gigantea, but the flowers are smaller and petal color is pale blue and occasionally white. (Fig. 4-11) Plants which grow as perennials tend to bloom irregularly, whereas those that grow in habitats where soil is moist part of the year and dries out the other part, bloom mainly in the wet season, which in their native Australia is from December to April.

TRAPPING

Prey is lured by the glistening droplets of mucilage on the tip of the tentacles. Insects are captured by becoming mired in the thick sticky mucilage on the leaf surface, where digestion and absorption also take place. The tentacles of Byblis do not move. As is the case in some other carnivorous plants, some insect species are, or at least appear to be, immune to these plants' digestive and trapping mechanisms and share in the plants' booty. One of these is the wingless caspid which is able to walk over the mucilage with impunity. This capability is observed but not understood.

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