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Giant Sundew: Carnivorous Plant Debuts on Social Media ESF Top 10 New Species of 2016

From the Author...

It was just another regular day in early September 2013. I was scrolling down my Facebook feed when I came across a post by a friend of mine, sharing a photograph of a large clump of Drosera in its habitat and asking for its identification. The photo was originally taken and posted by Reginaldo Vasconcelos, a plant enthusiast from Governador Valadares, eastern Minas Gerais state, in southeastern Brazil.

Even from that low-resolution picture, the plants immediately caught my attention because of the long and broad, apparently sessile, leaves and the long scapes with multiple flowers, not resembling any South American Drosera known so far. Together with my friend and co-author Fernando Rivadavia, I contacted Reginaldo asking for location data and other information about the plant, and we shortly arranged a field trip to the area to study the species in loco. There, we confirmed that this fascinating species was indeed completely new and unknown to science and started working on its description, which was finally published in July 2015.

With an elongated and creeping stem, and its long spear-shaped leaves, Drosera magnifica (“the magnificent sundew”) can reach over 1.5 m long (about 5 feet), being the largest sundew of the American continent and one of the three largest species of the entire genus. It is endemic to a single mountain summit where it forms a large but very restricted population, rendering it the conservation status of critically endangered. We hope this discovery will encourage the authorities to create a park to protect this fragile environment that is home to many endemic and still unknown species.

Paulo Gonella

About the Giant Sundew

Name: Drosera magnifica

Giant Sundew

Location: Brazil

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Angiospermae

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Droseraceae

Size: The stem may be prostrate or ascending, clinging to vegetation and reaching lengths up to 123.5 cm (about 4 feet)

Etymology: Named for the magnificent appearance of the plant

Type locality: Brazil, Minas Gerais, Conselheiro Pena, Pico de Padre Ângelo, 1530 m

Holotype: Herbario Universidade de São Paulo

More information: Paulo Minatel Gonella, Fernando Rivadavia, and Andreas Fleischmann. 2015. Drosera magnifica (Droseraceae): the largest New World sundew, discovered on Facebook. Phytotaxa 220: 257-267


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