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Genlisea violacea giant.jpg
Genlisea violacea traps and leaves
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lentibulariaceae
Genus: Genlisea
A.St.-Hil. (1833)
Subgenera and sections
Genlisea distribution.svg
Global distribution of Genlisea

Genlisea /ɛnlɪˈsə/ is a genus of carnivorous plants also known as corkscrew plants. The 30 or so species grow in wet terrestrial to semi-aquatic environments distributed throughout Africa and Central and South America. The plants use highly modified underground leaves to attract, trap and digest minute microfauna, particularly protozoans. Although suggested a century earlier by Charles Darwin, carnivory in the genus was not proven until 1998.[1]

The generic name Genlisea honors the late Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Albin, comtesse de Genlis, a French writer and educator.[2]

Several species in the genus, including G. margaretae, G. aurea, and G. tuberosa, possess the smallest known genomes of all flowering plants.[3][4]


Genlisea are small herbs, growing from a slender rhizome and bearing two morphologically distinct leaf types - photosynthetic foliage leaves aboveground and highly modified subterranean leaves used to trap prey. The plants lack roots, although the subterranean traps perform many of the functions normally performed by roots, such as anchorage and water absorption.

Several to many flowers are held by a slender, erect, and often tall inflorescence. As in other members of the bladderwort family, the corolla is fused into a bilobed tube tapering to a spur, with the lower lip of the corolla having three lobes.[2] The calyx is five-lobed, in contrast to Utricularia's three-lobed calyx.[5] Corolla colors are generally yellow or violet to mauve, although a few species are white or cream.[5]

The foliage leaves grow in a hemisphere around the growth point. Depending on species, these leaves are linear to spatulate in shape and 0.5–5 cm (¼–2 in) in length.[2]

The subterranean traps are white, lacking chlorophyll or any other pigmentation. They consist of a cylindrical stalk, widening at some distance below the surface into a hollow bulb-like utricle, and continuing as a hollow cylinder some further distance. At this point the stalk bifurcates into two furrowed spirals, between which the cylinder opening acts as the trap entrance. The furrows of the spiraled trap arms are lined with hairs pointing inward and toward the bifurcation. The hollow cylinder section leading from the bifurcation to the utricle is likewise lined with upward-pointing curved hairs. Some species produce two trap forms, one shorter and one longer, which probably target different prey groups.


Twenty-nine species are currently recognised in the genus.[6] Two varieties are also considered valid: G. aurea var. minor and the autonymous G. aurea var. aurea.[6] Intraspecific determination depends almost wholly upon the inflorescence, particularly upon the indumentum.[5]

Species Authority Year Image Distribution Subgenus Section
Genlisea africana Oliv. 1865 Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea angolensis R.D.Good 1924 Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea aurea A.St.-Hil. 1833 Genlisea aurea flower 2 Darwiniana.jpg South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea barthlottii S.Porembski, Eb.Fisch. & Gemmel 1996 Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea exhibitionista[7] Rivadavia & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria
Genlisea filiformis A.St.-Hil. 1833 Genlisea filiformis flower 2 Darwiniana.jpg South America, Central America, Cuba Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea flexuosa[7] Rivadavia, A.Fleischm. & Gonella 2011 South America Tayloria
Genlisea glabra P.Taylor 1967 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea glandulosissima R.E.Fr. 1916 Africa Genlisea Recurvatae
Genlisea guianensis N.E.Br. 1900 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea hispidula Stapf 1904 Genlisea hispidula.jpg Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea lobata Fromm 1989 GenliseaLobata.jpg South America Tayloria
Genlisea margaretae Hutch. 1946 Africa, Madagascar Genlisea Recurvatae
Genlisea metallica[7] Rivadavia & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria
Genlisea nebulicola[7] Rivadavia, Gonella & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria
Genlisea nigrocaulis Steyerm. 1948 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea oligophylla[7] Rivadavia & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria
Genlisea oxycentron P.Taylor 1954 South America, Trinidad Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea pallida Fromm & P.Taylor 1985 Africa Genlisea Recurvatae
Genlisea pulchella Tutin 1934 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea pygmaea A.St.-Hil. 1833 Genlisea pygmaea 3.jpg South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea repens Benj. 1847 Genlisearepens1web.jpg South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea roraimensis N.E.Br. 1901 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea sanariapoana Steyerm. 1953 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea stapfii A.Chev. 1912 Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea subglabra Stapf 1906 Genlisea subglabra flora-edit.jpg Africa Genlisea Africanae
Genlisea tuberosa[8] Rivadavia, Gonella & A.Fleischm. 2013 South America Genlisea Genlisea
Genlisea uncinata P.Taylor & Fromm 1983 South America Tayloria
Genlisea violacea A.St.-Hil. 1833 Genlisea violacea-edit.JPG South America Tayloria

Botanical history[edit]

The genus was discovered by Augustin François César Prouvençal de Saint-Hilaire,[2] who in 1833 described four species: G. aurea, G. filiformis, G. pygmaea, and G. violacea.


  1. ^ Barthlott W, Porembski S, Fischer E, Gemmel B (1998). "First protozoa-trapping plant found". Nature. 392 (6675): 447. doi:10.1038/33037.
  2. ^ a b c d Claudi-Magnussen G (1982). "An introduction to Genlisea". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. 11 (1): 13–15.
  3. ^ Greilhuber J, Borsch T, Müller K, Worberg A, Porembski S, Barthlott W (2006). "Smallest angiosperm genomes found in Lentibulariaceae, with chromosomes of bacterial size". Plant Biology. 8: 770–777. doi:10.1055/s-2006-924101. PMID 17203433.
  4. ^ Fleischmann A, Michael TP, Rivadavia F, Sousa A, Wang W, Temsch EM, Greilhuber J, Müller KF, Heubl G (2014). "Evolution of genome size and chromosome number in the carnivorous plant genus Genlisea (Lentibulariaceae), with a new estimate of the minimum genome size in angiosperms". Annals of Botany. 114 (8): 1651–1663. doi:10.1093/aob/mcu189. PMC 4649684. PMID 25274549.
  5. ^ a b c Taylor P (1991). "The genus Genlisea". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. 20 (1–2): 20–26.
  6. ^ a b Fleischmann, A. (2012). Monograph of the Genus Genlisea. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole. ISBN 978-190-878-700-2.
  7. ^ a b c d e Fleischmann, A., F. Rivadavia, P.M. Gonella & G. Heubl (2011). A revision of Genlisea subgenus Tayloria (Lentibulariaceae). Phytotaxa 33: 1–40. first page
  8. ^ Rivadavia F, Gonella PM, Fleischmann A (2013). "A new and tuberous species of Genlisea (Lentibulariaceae) from the campos rupestres of Brazil". Systematic Botany. 38 (2): 464–470. doi:10.1600/036364413X666679.

External links[edit]