The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Species of Latin America
Subgenus Genlisea
G. aurea St.Hil.1 Brazil
G. filiformis St.Hil.1 México, Belize, Cuba, Nicaragua,
Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana,
Bolivia, Brazil
G. glabra P.Taylor2 Venezuela
G. guianensis N.E.Brown2 Bolivia, Guyana, Venezuela,
G. pygmaea St.Hil.1 Colombia, Trinidad, Venezuela,
Guyana, Brazil
G. repens Benj.1 Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil,
Suriname, Paraguay
G. roraimensis N.E.Brown1 Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana
G. sanariapoana Steyermark2 Venezuela
Subgenus Tayloria
G. exhibitionista Rivadavia & A.Fleischm.3 Brazil
G. flexuosa Rivadavia, A.Fleischm. & Gonella4 Brazil
G. lobata Fromm-Trinta5 Brazil
G. metallica Rivadavia & A.Fleischm.6 Brazil
G. nebulicola Rivadavia, Gonella & A.Fleischm. 7 Brazil
G. oligophylla Rivadavia & A.Fleischm.6 Brazil
G. uncinata P.Taylor & Fromm-Trinta8 Brazil
G. violacea St.Hil.6 Brazil
3Flower pale lilac, & base of lower lip white with pale greenish-yellow markings.
4Flower violet to pink or lilac, & yellow splotches are outlined with a blue to purplish margin.
5White-flowered with yellow palate markings, upper lip veined violet; a violet spur.
6Flower violet to pink or lilac, & yellow splotches occur on a white background, or are margined in white.
7Flower pale lilac, & base of lower lip with yellow markings.
8Flower violet to pink or lilac, & yellow splotches.

Q: New World Genlisea species

A: With the exception of G. filiformis, all these species are restricted to South America and Trinidad. Their ranges are provided in the table to the right.

Most Genlisea are in subgenus Genlisea. These plants share a mode of seed capsule dehiscence which is unique in the world of flowering plants. Namely, their seed capsules break open by a fissure curving along the equatorial line of the fruit, as well as along other spiraling latitude-like lines nearer to the tip of the fruit.

In contrast, the species in subgenus Tayloria have fruit which split along longitudinal lines. (Those who don't agree with the work of Fischer, E. et al. (2000) refer to the infrageneric divisions of Genlisea as sections instead of subgenera.)

Carnivorous plant growers take note: A recent paper (Fleischmann, A. et al. 2011) split Genlisea violacea into about six separate species. I hope you kept the location information for your plants--you'll need it!

Genlisea aurea--This interesting species produces a thick mass of gel that coats the leaves. This gelatinous slime is so thick that the leaf rosette is completely embedded in the goo. I have never been very successful with this plant--oh, it persists in cultivation, but does not thrive. Nice goo, though.

Genlisea exhibitionista--The origin of this specific epithet comes from the exposed nature of the plants sexual organs--as the corolla lobes are liberally and conspicuously parted, revealing the male and female organs within.

Genlisea flexuosa--A plant which can be difficult to separate from Genlisea violacea, but noteworthy for having inflorescences with scrambling or twining tendancies--a characteristic unique in this genus. Referred to as "G. aff. violacea 'Giant' " in previous publications.

Genlisea metallica--A very distinctive species with dark violet flowers that have a metallic shine. It forms a cormlike organ used to survive dry periods. Critically endangered, with only two known populations. Referred to as "G. sp. Itacambira" in previous publications.

Genlisea nebulicola--A very rare plant that grows as a lithophyte within the sprays of waterfalls and on rock surfaces.

Genlisea oligophylla--Similar to G. uncinata in having few leaves at anthesis, and large succulent photosynthetic scapes. However, these species are different in floral characters.

Genlisea pygmaea--An easily grown, yellow-flowered species. Treat this like a tropical Utricularia and you will do just fine. Perhaps the only special treatment is to avoid disturbing it as much or as aggressively as you might abuse a weedy little Utricularia.

Genlisea repens--Another easily grown, yellow-flowered species. Again, grow this like a tropical Utricularia. Neither this nor G. pygmaea grows particularly quickly, but they are reliable in cultivation.

Genlisea uncinata--One of the largest species in terms of its 1-m tall flowering scapes. Some speculate that this plant does most of its photosynthesis in its big flower stalks! The flowers themselves are not very large, alas.

Genlisea violacea--This was long commonly grown by horticulturists, but various clones have been identified as new species.

G. lobata×violacea--This hybrid is in a number of collections, but the plant is so similar to G. lobata that many growers suspect it might just be that species instead.

You may occasionally hear about a plant called G. "filiformis" in cultivation. This plant is something of a mystery. It is probably not really G. filiformis, but I admit that I am the chief source for this incorrect name. The story is a long one...

Years ago, when I first received this plant, I grew it to flowering and immediately discovered that the identification was wrong--the plant was in fact Utricularia bisquamata! This was not really surprising--incorrectly identified plants frequently circulate in horticulture. Blindly trusting the writing on the tag is not wise. The second time I received this plant in trade, I assumed nothing about its identification, and waited for it to flower to see what it really was.

When it started flowering, it keyed quite readily as Genlisea pallida, an African species. Unfortunately, my plants never produce seed or even enlarged fruit, so I could not observe it in the fruiting condition (which would help the identification some). Even so, the identification was straightforward.

Meanwhile, my source for this plant insisted up and down that this specimen came from collecting trips made by Fernando Rivadavia in Brazil. If so, it obviously could not be the African Genlisea pallida, and must instead be a South American species. I was told that the plant was probably Genlisea filiformis. I returned to my dissection microscope and keys, but try as I might to force the outcome, the plant simply would not key as G. filiformis. I tried, oh how I tried...

Interestingly, recently Fernando Rivadavia told me that this plant was neither G. pallida or G. filiformis, but instead a clone of G. aurea that was growing poorly in my cultivation. This is odd, since I have little trouble growing G. aurea, and the myster plant did not produce the characteristic mucous coat my other clones of G. aurea do. In conclusion, the mystery is still not completely solved.

Page citations: Fischer, E. et al., 2000; Fleischmann, A. et al. 2011; García, M.O. & Martínez S., E. 2002; Rice, B.A. 2006a; Schlauer, J. 2002; Taylor, P. 1991a.

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Revised: December 2011
©Barry Rice, 2005