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Stegolepis hitchcockii advice

Stegolepis hitchcockii Neblina iridescent

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#1 encyclia83

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:01 PM

Pardon me for posting a topic of a non-carnivorous species, but based on its origin this might be the best place to get advice. I managed to get a young specimen of Stegolepis hitchcockii (something that I never even hoped for) and the plant arrived today. It is 20-25cm high with a few leaves, and seems to be strong and healthy. The problem is that there is no information at all about this species, and I have no idea how to grow it. And this is a species that needs to be grown not only well but perfectly. If anyone knows anything about its requirements please let me know.

For those who are not familiar with it: S hitchcockii grows exclusively on top of Cerro Neblina on the border of Venezuela and Brazil. It is up to 60cm high and lives among sparse, low shrubs. I assume that it must grow on quite rocky soil just like a Heliamphora, but I could not find any solid facts about this. The speciality of this plant is that one side of its leaves is iridescent and reflects incredible electric blue colors in sunshine. This probably serves as protection against the high UV radiation. I was told by the seller that the iridescence is difficult to produce in cultivation (that's why this species must be grown perfectly), and indeed the specimen that I received has none at all. High light levels or UV radiation might induce the plat to become iridescent, but this is just a guess.

The plant I received grew in something that looked like very compact, rotten peat? I'm not sure. It was heavy, dense and dripping wet. I thought this species would love some more open mixture like Heliamphoras. It would have been impossible to remove the old soil without damaging the roots, so i just placed it in a larger pot and filled some of my standard mix around it. It is lots of perlite, very coarse sand, dried NZ Sphagnum, some vermiculite, little peat, pieces of broken lava rock, charcoal  and pine bark. I use this for Sarracenia, Nepenthes and Heliamphora with modifications (more pine bark and peat for Sarracenia, more charcoal and lava rock for Nepenthes, and much more lava rock for Heliamphora). So far all my plants love this mix, hopefully the Stegolepis will like it too. Strangely I noticed that the roots were covered with thick slime. Maybe the plant produces this to move more easily forward in the soil  or as a protection from short drought periods or to bind water? I imagined the leaves would have tiny, velvety papillae to produce the iridescence. They dont. In stead they feel to the touch like plastic labels and are covered with a thick, transparent cuticule that can peel off in sheets where the leaf is bent. If you have seen Shellac, that's what it looks like. Surely the correct thickness of this layer regulates the iridescence, like oil on water.

Any comments, advice welcome.
Best regards.
Peter

#2 Andreas

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:28 AM

Dear Peter,

I cannot help you personally, unfortunately. Congratulations to get your hands on such a special plant! Woah...just discovered a photo of this plant on Stewart McPherson´s website! AMAZING!!! :blink: Urs Zimmermann is growing some of the non-carnivorous flora of the Tepuis like Xyris, Orectanthe and probably also Stegolepis. Maybe he can give you some advice. You can contact him via his website http://www.nepenthes.ch Go to "Impressum".

Good luck!

Andreas


Harrr...these typos always happen....

Edited by Andreas, 09 May 2013 - 01:30 AM.


#3 gardenofeden

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:44 AM

Araflora also sell it. Perhaps they can advise?

#4 encyclia83

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:54 PM

thanks for the link.

In fact, my plant is from araflora. I asked them for advice but got no reply, only the plant.

I installed some UV light above my plant. we will see how it grows...

#5 Tom499

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:46 AM

I had a look in Kubitzki's Families and Genera of Vascular Plants.

To paraphrase: Rapataceae are most often found on oligotrophic white sand substrates or bogs, but occur also in a variety of other habitats, such as forest understory, shrublands, seasonally flodded savannas, open rock formations and bogs.

Exclusive highland taxa occur in bogs and on sandstone & granitic substrate.


Flowering Plants of the Neotropics (Nathan Smith et al.) had little more to add.

Givinish et al. (2000) give some more information on habitat:

"Almost all members of the family are terrestrial herbs native to wet, acidic, highly infertile sands, peats, or mucks"

"Stegolepis and Marahuacaea dominate extensive peatlands atop tepuis and neighboring uplands, and bear strap-shaped leaves in bizarre, fan-shaped arrays with closely sheathed leaf-bases"


Hope it helps!



T. J. Givnish et al. (2000) Molecular evolution, adaptative radiation, and geographic diversification in the amphiatlantic family Rapateaceae: evidence from ndhF sequences and morphology.

#6 encyclia83

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:44 AM

Here's a little update. Sorry it took so long, but Stegolepis is one of the slowest growing plants I've ever seen.

I got no cultivation advice from the seller, so I kept the plant as seemed best based on what I knew about it. The growing medium was a sand + perlite mix with some additional sphagnum, pine bark, clay pebbles, charcoal and lava stones. This is what I use for all Nepenthes/Sarracenia. For the Stegolepis I added an extra amount of lava stones, and the medium was 80% inorganic. I water the pot from above and let the excess water drain freely. The plant is about 30cm below a 90W LED grow light in a humid enclosure at constant room temperature.

The plant established well, but each subsequent leaf was considerably smaller than the previous one, presumably due to the transportation and root disturbance. I was worried about this, but when I removed the dead outher leaves (after several months of cultivation) I found a new sidebranch emerging from the base of the plant. It seemed everything was OK. But the leaves also became more and more yellow. I added slowly dissolving nutrient sticks (intended for orchids) into the soil near the base of the plant. The next leaf got much larger and darker green.

The UV lamp (banknote tester) worked for 2-3 months about 20-30cm above the plant, then it burned out. In this time it had no visible effect on the small leaf that developed. All leaves of the plant are covered with a hard, transparent layer on the upper surface. This layer has a cloudy greyish appearance, but there's no sign of the famous iridescence. Stronger lighting and reinstalled UV tubes will be tested (as soon as I can afford them) and also the effects of the nutrient sticks are promising as they make the plant darker and more bluish green.

Otherwise Stegolepis seems to be very easy to grow among my little Heliamphora collection. They are commonly found together in their habitat, so I can recommend Stegolepis to any Heliamphora enthusiast as an interesting companion plant.

#7 Aidan

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:41 PM

Interesting. Thanks for the update.

#8 encyclia83

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:34 AM

Further update:

Some slow-release fertilizer helped to make the leaves more bluish green previously so I changed to a stronge fertilizer (and different brand). I also increased the LED light above the plant from 90W to 300W because I hoped that stronger light would provoke the production of the reflective layer. No luck. :( The leaes are all yellowish green again, and no sign of iridescence.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Stegolepis, hitchcockii, Neblina, iridescent

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