Drosera prolifera – The Hen and Chicks Sundew

I’m not sure why this sundew isn’t more common in collections; it’s literally named for its spectacular ability to proliferate.

Also known as “The Trailing Sundew”, Drosera prolifera is a perennial sundew that grows in a very small distribution near the summit of Thornton Peak in Queensland, Australia. Along with Drosera adelae and Drosera schizandra, it is one of the “Three Sisters from Queensland” as coined by Peter D’Amato in The Savage Garden.

Drosera prolifera grows in a rosette. Its leaves look like those wooden paddles you see moving pizzas in and out of woodfire ovens, only if the paddles were a couple inches long and the round part that holds the pizza were covered in little hairs producing gobs of insect-ensnaring gluey dew at their tips. These leaves can fold together like a sick, sticky sandwich when prey is captured.

Unique biology of Drosera prolifera

Drosera prolifera…proliferating

Drosera prolifera sends out winding little flower stems that scramble around and will produce plantlets that will grow using the flower stem as a lifeline, send down roots, and soon become their own individual plants – thus the name. There are actual flowers, too, similar to Drosera adelae‘s, that are like little purple stars but the petals are much more rounded than D. adelae’s. These can set seed when pollinated, producing even more plants, as well.

Preferred growing conditions

Based on the author’s experiences, Drosera prolifera is arguably more difficult to grow than its sister, Drosera adelae, but easier than its other sister, Drosera schizandra. It has grown well sitting in 1/2″ of water under bright lights with ambient humidity being around 40-50. It doesn’t seem particularly picky about potting media as it has sent out scrambling flower stems and produced plantlets in several adjacent pots, the contents of which have ranged from almost pure peat to live sphagnum moss. Lower light should produce its classic green coloration. Higher humidity shouldn’t be problematic, either.

Other Sundew species & hybrids