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Discussions about anything related to Venus Flytraps, cultivars and named clones

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By Veronis
Posts:  2200
Joined:  Fri May 29, 2009 8:41 pm
#150872
Last Updated: August 31, 2015

This article discusses the following:
  1. The difference between flytraps grown from seed ("seed-grown" & "typicals"), and vegetatively-propagated "cultivars"
  2. Basic genetics of flytraps and their singular species
  3. A very brief history of how flytrap cultivars came to be
  4. Vegetative propagation, rhizome divisions, and natural cloning
  5. How flytraps can live forever if cared for properly
  6. Identifying whether your flytrap is displaying signs of immortality
  7. Usage of nitrogen, plant size, insect types, and the adverse effect of flowering
  8. How-to's for flytrap seeds, pullings/cuttings, and working with flytrap rhizomes
Feel free to reply with suggestions/updates.


1. Flytrap Seed-Growns vs. Flytrap Cultivars, and Basic Genetics

A cultivar (which is short for "cultivated variety") is a flytrap that, due to having impressive, interesting, and/or unique trait(s), was named or labeled. A few examples of cultivars include Red Dragon, Mirror, Wacky Traps, and the much-sought-after giant B52.

Flytrap seeds, regardless of whether their parents were cultivars, don't grow more cultivars - it's an impossible scenario. Every individual flytrap seed grows a genetically unique flytrap, referred to as a "seed-grown" flytrap, most of which are "Typical". Any given flytrap seed will most frequently grow up looking "Typical": that is, it will look like every photo of every flytrap you've ever seen - a run-of-the-mill flytrap with average mostly-green coloration, maybe a little pink/red inside the traps, and standard cilia (teeth) that look like eyelashes.

In any set of seeds, however, some may be unique or show some interesting or unique trait. For example, a common mutation is short, saw-like cilia that look like shark teeth instead of the usual "eyelashes". If the seeds' parents have interesting traits, a seed will often (but not always) grow up to share some of the parent's interesting or unique traits, but there are no guarantees. Even if a seedling looks interesting or uninteresting, be aware that traits can change as seedlings mature.

Flytraps are manual self-pollinators (you can pollinate a flower of a single flytrap using the same flower's pollen, but they need help from us or bees). They can also be cross-pollinated with any other flowering flytrap; there are no males or females. Growers agree that cross-pollination generally yields more seeds, higher germination rates, and more robust seedlings.

If we take two FTS Maroon Monster cultivars and cross-pollinate them with each other, the seeds they generate will not create more Maroon Monsters. The seeds will be more likely to produce red flytraps due to their parentage (two red flytraps), but some will be green, some may have short teeth much like a Dentate or Bristletooth cultivar, some will have more upright growth while others will grow low to the ground. Some will be fast growers, and some will be slow growers.

Seeds are produced in flytrap seed pods that started out as pollen-bearing flowers. In each seed, the various genes that make up its parents' traits (size, color, robustness, teeth shape, etc.) are shuffled and reconnected in a way to form unique new flytraps.

In human terms, it's sort of like if a couple, both with brown eyes, had a baby. The baby is likely to have brown eyes, but it's entirely possible that the baby will develop blue eyes, or even green eyes, if the couple both have blue or green recessive genes. It's genetics, and it's pretty random. If the same couple had 100 babies, you'd see a lot of commonalities, but every child would be unique, and some might be very unique or even possibly deformed. The same is the case with flytraps.
Matt wrote:Mother plant genes seem to be most dominant. The B52 x Big Mouth (where B52 is the mother plant) would likely produce plants looking more like B52, whereas Big Mouth x B52 would produce more plants looking like Big Mouth. It definitely is a crap shoot, but there are some statistics at play that seem to be fairly reliable from what I've seen so far.
It's important to note that even if a few of the seedlings look just like their parents, which some might, the seedlings should not be labeled the same as the parent, because the seedling is not genetically identical to its parent(s). In these cases, growers often label them as crosses, e.g. B52 x B52, B52 x FTS Maroon Monster, etc.

The only way to create more FTS Maroon Monsters or B52s is via vegetative propagation (which is easy to do at home - more on that in section 4). Bottom line: No seed-grown flytrap, regardless of its traits or parentage, should ever be labeled with the same name of an existing cultivar - here's a discussion that came up recently about this: http://www.flytrapcare.com/phpBB3/diona ... ml#p151494. To label a plant using someone's best guess is scientifically incorrect; further, it could cause confusion if you ever do future trades with other growers.

A flytrap being a "cultivar" does not indicate superiority over any seed-grown flytrap. This is especially true when taking into account robustness or vigor. Many officially registered cultivars were registered decades ago. Some are slow growers, poor seeders, or make small traps.

One of my favorite flytraps in my collection is an unnamed seed-grown, still in its adolescence, that looks similar to a 'Bristletooth'. Here is a photo of it:
unnamed_seed-grown.jpg
unnamed_seed-grown.jpg (53.69 KiB) Viewed 60443 times
2. Species and Forms

Unlike other carnivorous plants, venus flytraps are all one species, Dionaea muscipula. Every flytrap in the world is this species, with a few varying forms such as Dionaea muscipula f. erigee (upright growth like Spider) and Dionaea muscipula f. verte (all-green anthocyanin-free like Grun).

With sundews, on the other hand, you have Drosera adelae, Drosera burmannii, Drosera spatulata, and tons of other species. Seeds from a self-pollinated Drosera burmannii will always create more Drosera burmannii. There are also hybrid drosera, where two different drosera species with matching chromosome counts were cross-pollinated to create a new unique hybrid, such as Drosera x [intermedia x capillaris], which is a plant resulting from the seed from a cross-pollination between a Drosera intermedia and a Drosera capillaris.

The same is true with Nepenthes and Sarracenia; lots of species and hybrids exist. Nepenthes take it a step further, and are the only carnivorous plants that have male and female plants; in order to get seed, both a male and female Nepenthes must flower at the same time. It can take 5+ years to determine the sex of Nepenthes grown from seed.


3. Flytrap Cultivars and Very Brief History

All cultivars known today (B52, Akai Ryu, Cupped Trap, Coquillage, etc.) were, at one time, grown from a seed, and for a long time venus flytraps didn't really have named varieties, although I'm sure unofficial labeling probably took place here and there.

1993 was the first time someone said "Hey International Carnivorous Plant Society! I have this flytrap that I grew from seed and it has some unique traits. I'd like to name it." I'm sure he didn't use those exact words...probably filled out a form, maybe made a phone call...but you get the idea. In 1994, the Dionaea 'Royal Red' was born, the very first-ever flytrap cultivar, founded and named by Geoffrey Mansell of Queensland, Australia.

The dated clones, "1955" and "1979", are flytraps that people started growing way back then, and have managed to keep them alive all this time (see the immortal flytrap section). Finally in more recent years they set them up to be vegetatively propagated and distributed so others could have them.

Official ICPS-registered cultivars have single quotes, such as 'Royal Red'. Cultivars that are not officially registered with ICPS (which is 90% of them) are named with double quotes, e.g. "FTS Maroon Monster".

Most recent officially-registered cultivars as of this writing: Some of the more unique cultivars that are not officially registered with the ICPS: Currently, there are a total of 33 officially-registered cultivars, and hundreds of others that are not officially registered with ICPS. Some of the coolest flytraps I own are non-registered cultivars, one of my absolute favorites being "Big Vigorous", an otherwise fairly typical-looking flytrap. It lives up to both halves of its name, and then some. As a test, I once chopped an adult Big Vigorous to the ground mid-season (nothing left above the soil at all) and 6 weeks later it had 5 big traps again; 6 more weeks after that, there were 4 new growth points in that pot, possibly a reaction to being chopped.


4. Vegetative Propagation: The only way to clone a flytrap

At this point we know we can't clone or duplicate flytraps from seeds. Vegetative propagation is the exception - this is how all cultivars are cloned and distributed. All Royal Reds that exist today were created from plant tissue (leaf pulling or flower stalk cutting) that was taken from the original 1993 Royal Red, which results in clones, or exact genetic copies, of the original Royal Red. Taking plant tissue from a Royal Red clone and using it to propagate more plants from it will also result in more Royal Reds.

You can do this at home via vegetative propagation (try this first) or tissue culture, the (more expensive) way that many plant stores use because you get more clones faster.


5. The Immortal Venus Flytrap

How are flytraps born in 1955 and 1979 still alive today? How long do these things live?

Flytraps divide their rhizomes (the white "heart" of a flytrap that connects the roots to the leaves/traps) over time, which effectively creates clones of whatever flytrap it divided from. This is how flytraps vegetatively propagate themselves naturally, in addition to setting seed. If you start with one single flytrap in a pot and keep it alive for a year or two, you will have more than one flytrap eventually, sometimes up to 3 or even 6 divisions in a single season. Now you have several flytraps instead of 1, growing very close to one another.

Most places online say that a well-cared for flytrap can live for around 7-11 years. Yes, perhaps the original rhizome might live about that long, but by then you'll have multiple new naturally-divided clones of the plant.

As such, flytraps can "live forever" in your pots with proper care. :)


6. Identifying whether a flytrap has natural divisions/multiple rhizomes

The flytrap's leaves/traps grow out of the rhizome, or growth point. At some point at around 7-10 leaves, a single rhizome simply cannot support more leaves, but if conditions are right (plenty of light/good soil, etc.), it's going to want to.

The flytrap therefore starts expanding its rhizome to support additional leaves. These expansions will eventually divide completely into new flytraps - clones of the parent plant.

If your flytrap's leaves/traps are all emerging from one spot, it probably only has one rhizome, unless you have more than ~10 traps or so. Once you have more traps than that, your flytrap is most likely currently dividing its rhizome under the soil.

If the leaves/traps are emerging from more than one point, even if those two points are right up against each other, then you have multiple rhizomes, and therefore multiple plants. These divisions frequently start out with traps much smaller than the parent plant, so look for abnormally small traps as well, which could be a clue that your plant is dividing. These small plantlets will grow to mature plants within a few months to a year, give or take - much faster than the 3-5 years it gets to get a mature plant from seed.

See this thread and the first reply for photos of flytraps that naturally divided their rhizomes: http://www.flytrapcare.com/phpBB3/are-t ... 14567.html


7. Growth: Usage of nitrogen, plant size, and why it's so often recommended to cut flytraps' flower stalks off

This topic is discussed in a separate article.


How-to's for flytrap seeds, pullings/cuttings, and working with flytrap rhizomes
Veronis, Veronis, Veronis and 22 others liked this
By parker679
Posts:  1642
Joined:  Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:34 pm
#150875
It's also worth pointing out that all the named cultivars started out as seed grown plants that displayed interesting/favorable characteristics and where therefore cloned.

AND it's also worth noting that seed grown doesn't imply inferiority. Many times a plant grown from the seeds of a named cultivar can be a superior specimen.

This is what finally made me take the plunge and buy a pack of FTS's mixed seeds. There is always the chance that you get something really neat/unique.

Great post Veronis, as usual you've come up with something highly informative yet easy to read.
parker679 liked this
By Veronis
Posts:  2200
Joined:  Fri May 29, 2009 8:41 pm
#150877
parker679 wrote:AND it's also worth noting that seed grown doesn't imply inferiority. Many times a plant grown from the seeds of a named cultivar can be a superior specimen.
Thanks.

The note about named cultivars starting out as seedlings is the first sentence in the "Flytrap Cultivars and History" section, but I've added a note about this. :)
Veronis wrote:Some seed-grown flytraps are unimpressive (frequently looking like the "Typical" I described above), but many of them are quite the opposite. A seed-grown flytrap should not be considered an inferior specimen to cultivars. In fact, many of the officially registered cultivars, discussed below, are rather slow-growers, are poor seeders, are not very colorful, or make rather small traps, while many seed-grown are quite colorful, have unique traits, and are often vigorous growers.

One of my favorite flytraps in my collection is an unnamed seed-grown, still in its adolescence.
By prized
Posts:  160
Joined:  Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:33 pm
#150915
I'd also say that, if your seedgrown plant is similar to any of the already existing named clone/cultivar, you should not name it! Like the one in the picture, is the same as Sawtooth. (I also have a seedgrown plant like this, and it will replace sawtooth and dentata in my collection, but I wont release it with any name... :P)

I think that giving a name to a plant, that is not distinguishable from another plant without its label, it's VERY bad thing to do in cultivation!!!
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By Veronis
Posts:  2200
Joined:  Fri May 29, 2009 8:41 pm
#150929
prized wrote:I'd also say that, if your seedgrown plant is similar to any of the already existing named clone/cultivar, you should not name it! Like the one in the picture, is the same as Sawtooth. (I also have a seedgrown plant like this, and it will replace sawtooth and dentata in my collection, but I wont release it with any name... :P)

I think that giving a name to a plant, that is not distinguishable from another plant without its label, it's VERY bad thing to do in cultivation!!!
Good idea.

I added the following paragraph to the "Flytrap Seeds vs. Flytrap Cultivars" section:
Veronis wrote:It's important to note at this point that even if a few of the aforementioned seedlings look just like their "FTS Maroon Monster" parents, which some might, the seedlings should *not* be labeled "FTS Maroon Monster", because the seedlings are not genetically identical to a "FTS Maroon Monster", and therefore are not Maroon Monsters. The only way to create more FTS Maroon Monsters is via vegetative propagation (easy to do at home), which we'll get into a bit further down. Bottom line: No seed-grown flytrap, regardless of its traits or parentage, should ever be labeled with the same name of an existing cultivar. Doing so is scientifically incorrect and could cause confusion if you ever do future trades. In this case, instead label the plant something like "FTS Maroon Monster Gen 2" (generation 2).
...also added:
Veronis wrote:One of my favorite flytraps in my collection is an unnamed seed-grown, still in its adolescence. It looks very similar to a 'Bristletooth', but even if both its parents were Bristletooths, I could never label this plant 'Bristletooth' because it is seed-grown, and therefore is NOT genetically identical to a Bristletooth. Here is a photo of that unnamed seed-grown:
...later in the Vegetative Propagation section, added:
Veronis wrote:If you want to try vegetative propagation for yourself to clone your plants and make more of the same cultivar (and be able to label the plant as such), check the Vegetative Propagation link at the bottom of this article. If you have any specific questions that the link doesn't cover, our community would be happy to help you out, so feel free to post a new topic and ask.
By parker679
Posts:  1642
Joined:  Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:34 pm
#150930
Veronis wrote: The note about named cultivars starting out as seedlings is the first sentence in the "Flytrap Cultivars and History" section, but I've added a note about this. :)
You know, I thought I saw that you said that and when I looked I couldn't find it. My bad.

Is that Bristletooth-like seed grown able to catch prey?

prized wrote:I think that giving a name to a plant, that is not distinguishable from another plant without its label, it's VERY bad thing to do in cultivation!!!
I 100% agree with this statement. Named cultivars should have some unique trait(s) that set it aside from the pack. Slightly longer teeth, a little more red/green, etc. are not unique. I want to see something like half inch traps with 1 inch teeth, that would be neat and worthy of a name.
By Tony C
Posts:  352
Joined:  Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:23 am
#150983
Veronis wrote:In human terms, it's sort of like two people with blue eyes and brown hair having a baby. The baby is likely to have traits of the parents, but it is entirely possible that the baby will develop brown eyes like his grandpa had.
Blue eyes are a recessive trait, if two blue eyed people have a brown eyed baby then mom has some explaining to do. :D
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By xr280xr
Posts:  2806
Joined:  Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:29 pm
#163965
Thanks for this Veronis. Great write up, I've read it several times.

There seems to be a discrepancy between what you say here and something on the main flytrapcare.com site that I also hear said both ways in the forums. This sticky says:
Veronis wrote:The short version is this: Flytrap seeds, regardless of whether their parents were cultivars, don't grow more cultivars
While the site's cultivars page says:
...it is possible to propagate cultivars sexually from seed provided that the offspring do in fact retain the characteristics as they are described in the cultivar registration.
I understand that what you're talking about is a true clone, genetically identical, to the parent plant. And I think I understand that the author of the site page is saying although it may have slight genetic differences, it's possible for it to look exactly the same therefore meeting the registered cultivar standard.

So my questions are:
  1. Can we discuss how an asexually pollinated seed can have genetic differences from its parent? I know this is basic biology but I'm hoping for a fairly simple answer. If both the "mother" and "father" genes are identical, why aren't the same dominant genes selected, creating a genetic copy?
  2. Plants grown from seeds that match the cultivar description; is it considered acceptable to sell these as the named cultivar? I thought only clones could accurately be called the named cultivar, as you stated.
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By Matt
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Joined:  Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm
#163987
xr280xr wrote:Plants grown from seeds that match the cultivar description; is it considered acceptable to sell these as the named cultivar?
Only if the cultivar description designates that the plant can be propagated sexually. The only case of an officially registered cultivar to allow this (that I can think of) is 'Red Burgundy'.
xr280xr wrote:I thought only clones could accurately be called the named cultivar, as you stated.
That is correct in almost all cases.
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By Dr GreenThumb
Location: 
Posts:  445
Joined:  Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:15 pm
#177468
Great article, makes me want to grow some from seed, it's like a lucky dip, once I get my VFTs I'm going to let them bring some seed in once they get going

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