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Genlisea violacea giant.jpg
Genlisea violacea traps and leaves
Scientific classification e
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][5]


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 absorption of water and nutrients.

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.[6] Corolla colors are generally yellow or violet to mauve, although a few species are white or cream.[6]

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.[7] Two varieties are also considered valid: G. aurea var. minor and the autonymous G. aurea var. aurea.[7] Intraspecific determination depends almost wholly upon the inflorescence, particularly upon the indumentum.[6]

Species Authority Year Image Distribution Subgenus Section Genome size (Mbp)[5]
Genlisea africana Oliv. 1865 Africa Genlisea Africanae 740
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 64 & 117 - 131
Genlisea barthlottii S.Porembski, Eb.Fisch. & Gemmel 1996 Africa Genlisea Africanae -
Genlisea exhibitionista[8] 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[8] 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 154-189
Genlisea guianensis N.E.Br. 1900 South America Genlisea Genlisea 289
Genlisea hispidula Stapf 1904 Genlisea hispidula.jpg Africa Genlisea Africanae 1510 - 1550
Genlisea lobata Fromm 1989 GenliseaLobata.jpg South America Tayloria - 1200 - 1722
Genlisea margaretae Hutch. 1946 Africa, Madagascar Genlisea Recurvatae 113 - 195
Genlisea metallica[8] Rivadavia & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria - 1057
Genlisea nebulicola[8] Rivadavia, Gonella & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria - -
Genlisea nigrocaulis Steyerm. 1948 South America Genlisea Genlisea 73 - 86
Genlisea oligophylla[8] Rivadavia & A.Fleischm. 2011 South America Tayloria - -
Genlisea oxycentron P.Taylor 1954 South America, Trinidad Genlisea Genlisea 75
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 161 - 179
Genlisea repens Benj. 1847 Genlisearepens1web.jpg South America Genlisea Genlisea 77 - 86 & 142 - 150
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 1471 - 1622
Genlisea tuberosa[9] Rivadavia, Gonella & A.Fleischm. 2013 South America Genlisea Genlisea 61[4]
Genlisea uncinata P.Taylor & Fromm 1983 South America Tayloria - 995 - 1062
Genlisea violacea A.St.-Hil. 1833 Genlisea violacea-edit.JPG South America Tayloria - 1005 - 1609

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.

Genome size range[edit]

The genus has a 25-fold range in genome size among its species and notably includes some of the smallest known plant genomes.[5] For example, the genome of G. nigrocaulis is 86 Mbp (1C; 2n = 40) while that of its close relative G. hispidula (1C; 2n = 40) is 1550 Mbp, 18-fold larger. More than one genome size has been measured in G. aurea and G. repens, suggesting that di- and tetraploid individuals exist.[5]


  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. ^ a b 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 d Vu, Giang; Schmutzer, Thomas; Bull, Fabian; Cao, Hieu; Fuchs, Jörg; Schubert, Ingo; others, and (2015). "Comparative Genome Analysis Reveals Divergent Genome Size Evolution in a Carnivorous Plant Genus". The Plant Genome. 8 (3): 1–14. doi:10.3835/plantgenome2015.04.0021. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Taylor P (1991). "The genus Genlisea". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. 20 (1–2): 20–26.
  7. ^ a b Fleischmann, A. (2012). Monograph of the Genus Genlisea. Redfern Natural History Productions, Poole. ISBN 978-190-878-700-2.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ 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.

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