Cephalotus follicularis is an absolutely fabulous looking plant from southwest Australia. A pot of these bizarre little things look so grotesquely bizarre, you expect their lids to start flapping at you any second as they start singing a happy little puppet song or demand a blood sacrifice immediately.
The pitchers of Cephalotus follicularis are marvels of adaptation. Flanged wings on the pitchers might function as insect highways, drawing prey up to the pitcher mouth. A lid with windows allows in light, but prevents the pitcher from overfilling with rain. It probably also helps retain prey (although, like all other lidded pitcher plants, there is no opening or closing activity associated with trapping). A peristome around the mouth is festooned with glands. Prey that fall into the pitcher find escape impossible because of the microscopic downward-pointing projections on the slippery pitcher walls, and a nasty overhanging ceiling they cannot navigate around. Each pitcher is filled with fluid, exuded by comparatively large (0.2 mm diameter) domelike glands. There is some opinion that this plant specializes in trapping ants, although field researchers often report a variety of captured prey. Once inside, insects must contend with the dread gland patch. Ahh, the gland patch. This elongated patch near the bottom of each picher is covered with tiny (0.02 mm diameter) glands that secrete digestive enzymes.
The common name, Albany pitcher plant, merely indicates that this plant is found near the Australian town of Albany. The Latin name translates, strangely enough, to "the sack-bearing, headed one". Although this sounds like some horrible kind of schoolyard insult that got messed up on the delivery, it actually is a convoluted set of botanical references. The "sack" refers to the pitchers, while the "headed" refers to the shape of the flower's anthers. A strange choice of epithets, in my opinion.
Cephalotus follicularis is the only species in the genus.
Read more about Cephalotus at the ICPS sarracenia.com FAQ
-- Barry Rice
Cephalotus information on the ICPS carnivorousplants.org web site:
Registered Cultivar Names
Cephalotus follicularis Cultivation
Cephalotus information in the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter:
Tran, Dick (2001) Cephalotus cultivation: cultivation with capillary mats. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 30(3):88-89 (
Mann, Phill (2005) Observations on Cephalotus follicularis and Drosera binata in Western Australia. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 34(3):68-70 (
Search the CPN Index and Archive for over 60 articles about Cephalotus.