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Byblis aquatica is an insectivorous plant belonging to the genus Byblis, commonly known as the rainbow plants. It grows in semi-aquatic conditions and uses stalked mucilaginous glands (similar to those employed by the unrelated sundews and Drosophyllum) covering its leaf surfaces to attract, catch, and digest insect prey to supplement the poor environmental nutrient supply.
Byblis aquatica is an annual plant with a usually unbranching central stem supported by fine, fibrous roots. The central stem can reach a length of 45 centimetres (18 in), although it is only able to support its own weight during early growth (<5 cm.). After that it leans on neighboring plants for support, eventually toppling and growing horizontally along the ground or water surface, with only the growth tip growing uprightly.
The plant's leaves are 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) long, highly filiform (elongated and narrow), round in cross-section and tapering at the end. Young leaves are bright green and grow uprightly; as they age, they darken to a maroon (color) and droop. The leaf surface is covered with stalked mucilaginous glands along its entire length. These serve not only to attract and trap insect prey, but also allow the plant to "hold on" to neighboring structures for support.
Byblis aquatica flowers are born singly at the tip of 1.5–3-centimetre (0.59–1.18 in) stems similar in appearance to the leaves. These emerge from the leaf axes in mature plants. The five-petaled, deep purple flowers appear between January and May (during the Australian summer).
This species has a very limited distribution in the Australian Northern Territory. It is endemic to the area between Darwin and Berry Springs, but is fairly common there. It grows in the loamy sand of seasonally flooded depressions and in the shallow margins of freshwater lagoons. Here it shares its habitat with B. liniflora. which is however native to dryer regions elsewhere.
Seeds per pack: 5
Germination: These seeds germinate best using a mixture of 50% peat and 50% perlite or sand. Soak the mixture for 1 hour, then gently squeeze out excess water, but allow some moisture to remain (not dripping). Place the moss in a container.
These seeds benefit from a 24 hour soak with 10 PPM of gibberellic acid (a plant hormone). After the treatment, sprinkle the seeds on top of the growing mix, and cover the container with plastic to retain moisture while the seeds germinate. Place the container in very bright light, at 15-30C, 60-85F. Once the small plants begin to grow, slowly open the plastic a little each day. Use rain water or distilled water (use a spritz bottle while plants are small) to regularly water plants. Plants thrive with at least 8-10 hours of direct light, be it artificial or natural. Seeds germinate anywhere from 2-4 months, with a few seeds taking longer. Patience is needed, though they are well worth the wait! These seeds can also be grown without the gibberellic acid treatment, though they can take up to a year to germinate without it.
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