Pinguicula medusina

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Family : Lentibulariaceae

Genus : Pinguicula

Name : Pinguicula medusina

Sub-classification (Casper) : link

PublicationS. Zamudio Ruiz and M. Studnika in Acta Botanica Mexicana (2000), 53 :67-74 : « Nueva especie gipsicola de Pinguicula (Lentibulariaceae) del estado de Oaxaca, Mexico »

Synonyms : Pinguicula heterophylla f. alfredae or Pinguicula alfredae


By S. Zamudio Ruiz and M. Studnika in Acta Botanica Mexicana (2000), 53 :67-74 : 

Herba perennis. Folia radicala rosulata integerrima biformia ; « rosula hiemis » hypogaea 9-23mm longa, 9-20mm lata bulbiformis ex pluribus foliis numerosis (70-90) composita, foliis exterioribus squamiformibus lanceolatis vel anguste lanceolatis acutis vel acuminatis glabriusculis marginibus longe ciliatis 8-23mm longis 1.5-3.5mm latis, intimis similibus sed non ciliatis ; « rosula aestatis » 6-10 (12) foliis initio erecta basi longe ciliata superne glandulis sessilibus dense et glandulis stipitatis modice dense vestita, foliis exterioribus (transitionis) 2-3 (4) obovato-oblongis vel oblongo-lanceolatis obtusis vel acutiusculis 20-40mm longis 3-7.5mm latis, intimis longe lineari-lanceolatis gradatim in acumen tenue circinatum abeuntibus 70-190mm longis 1.5-3.5mm latis margine valde revolutis, gemmas in apicem formatibus. Pedunculi 1-3 erecti glandulis stipitatis obsiti 40-140mm alti uniflori. Flores 16-23mm longi (calcare incluso). Calyx bilabiatus extus glandulis stipitatis obsitus ; labium superum usque ad basim trilobum, lobis triangulatis, labium inferum bilobum lobis usque ad 2/3 longitudinis divisis, lobis triangulatis. Corolla subisoloba alba vel alba violaceo marginata extus glandulis stipitatis disperse obsita logis oblongis vel anguste-obovatis truncatis vel rotundatis 5-9mm longis 2.5-5mm latis. Tubus cylindricus sine palato albus vel violaceus ventraliter maculis flavovirentibus 6-9mm longus intus pilosus basin tubi versus pilis brevioribus irregulater capitatis. Calcar subcylindricum breve rotundatum 3-5mm longum, cum tubo subporrectum. Stamina +/- 2mm longa ; pollen (4)-5(6)-colporatum. Ovarium subglobosum glandulis stipitatis disperse obsitum. Stigma violaceum bilabiatum labio infero suborbiculato dentato alae angustae dentatae formans. Capsula subglobosa +/- 3mm diametro. Semina fusiformia +/- 1mm longa +/- 0.25mm lata, alveolata.

translation :

 - Soon - 


This plant grows in Mexico and can be found on gypsum hills at Laguna Encantata, at about 3km north from Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the state of Oaxaca. This plant can be found worldwide under the superfluous names of Pinguicula heterophylla f. alfredae or Pinguicula alfredae.

This butterwort was discovered by Alfred Lau in 1977 ( thus implying the name alfredae !) while he was looking for cactus on a new hill of gypsum. Alfred Lau collected a few plants and sent it to various European botanical gardens. The first attempts to grow these samples  failed : all the plants sent to the botanical garden of the University of Charles rotted very soon. However, the plants sent to Linz in Austria survived. They were multiplied and sent to other persons under the name Pinguicula ‘alfredae’ without  giving them a precise taxonomic rank.

Van Marm and Lampard (1992) considered  it was  time to resolve the problem of whether P. alfredae was a form of Pinguicula heterophylla or not. However, they didn’t have enough different plants to conclude and felt that it will be important to perform further studies of wild populations and in the greenhouse. Between 1998 and 1999, there were various expeditions to the state of Oaxaca to find wild populations of these plants with the aim of collecting new clones for study to try to answer the question. In the same period, in the botanical garden of Liberec in the Czech Republic, Studnicka  obtained the proof that P. heterophylla and P. ‘alfredae’ were different species through studies of live material which could be distinguished by their flower morphology, their phenology and their ecology.


Localisation / Map: 

This plant grows in Mexico and is found on gypsum hills at Laguna Encantata, about 3km north from Santiago Juxtlahuaca in the state of Oaxaca. 


(click on the map for better location and relief map)




Pinguicula medusina is found on gypsum hillsides, shaded and wet with a vegetation of matorral rosetofilo (matorral rosetofilo : steppe with rosetted vegetation) and tropical woods with Bursera schlechtendalii, B. mirandae, Vallesia sp., Dasylirion sp., Agave sp., at altitudes between 1600 and 1700m. 

At the present we don’t know of other wild populations except in the type locality near “Laguna Encatada”, at about 3km north from Santiago Juxtlahuaca in Oaxaca.


P. medusina shows a close similarity with Pinguicula heterophylla with which it shares many common features.

The difficulty was to assess if P. ‘alfredae’ was a new taxon, distinguishable from P. heterophylla, and to establish it’s rank. Some doubts existed in the past, (Van Marm and Lampard , 1992) because at the first glance it is hard to distinguish the two plants. However, it is now clear that there are different features in their flowers and in their habitats. In general, the flower of Pinguicula medusina is a little smaller and more slender that the flower of Pinguicula heterophylla. The shape of the corolla lobes is also different : in P. heterophylla, the lower lobes are obovate-oblong, rounded at the end and overlap at the edges ; whereas in P. medusina, the lobes are oblongue and narrow, obovate, truncated and rounded at their tips and they don’t overlap. Furthermore in Pinguicula heterophylla the lobes lobes are more often reflexed while in Pinguicula medusina  this is not noted. 

The colour pattern of the flower is also different : for Pinguicula heterophylla, the corolla is lilac or whitish, with a yellow-greenish blotch on the throat and the spur is light green ; for Pinguicula medusina the corolla is white or white with a lilac coloration on the edges of the lobes, the tube is white or tinted with violet with a green-yellowish blotch on the lower part whilst the spur is white.

When you grow samples of the two plants under the same conditions, you can note differences on the phenology of the two species : P. heterophylla has flower from May to June, while the intermediate leaves between the winter rosette and the summer rosette  appear. The summer leaves are formed between the end of June and the end of October, after which the winter rosette  develops and remains until April of the next year. For Pinguicula medusina, the flowering period occurs from the beginning of June to the beginning of July. As for Pinguicula heterophylla, we observe the presence of intermediate leaves that remain until the middle of August. The summer leaves develop from August to December and the winter rosette  is produced in January. This winter rosette  remains until June of the next year. 

Introduction in culture :

As indicated above, this butterwort was first  introduced in culture in 1977 by Alfred Lau and sent to different botanical gardens in Europe. Only the plants sent to Linz in Austria survived and were subsequently propagated and sent to other growers. New clones have been certainly introduced between 1998 and 1999 from different field trips.


(North hemisphere, France near Paris, in a polycarbonate greenhouse - see the map -)  


Life cycle : The flowering period occurs between the end of May and July. The  “summer rosette”  emerges at the end of may by the production of 3 to 4 intermediate leaves (obovate-oblong to oblong-lanceolate) shorter than the true “summer leaves”, these leaves remain only for a short time. The  “summer leaves” emerge from July to November or December. They are narrower , longer and  erected. In December, the “winter rosette “ is formed. The “ winter rosette “ is compact, like an onion bulb and buried under the soil surface. In this state, the plant is protected by a sheath of dry leaves like a skin until the next growing period. The leaves of the summer rosette are erected but at maturity the extreme tip lies on the soil. Small plantlets are formed at the end of the leaf allowing a vegetative multiplication. These young plants are only produced at the upper end of the leaf and produce roots very soon  allowing the plantlet to anchor in the soil. These young plants stop growing during winter waiting for wetter conditions at the next growing period. (see link)

Media: I use a 100 % mineral media : 2 perlite, 2 vermiculite, 1 small sand (for aquarium), 1 fine white sand, 1 pouzzolane (volcanic lava), 1 aqualit (expansed ceramic for aquarium). The aqualit can be replaced by 1 of pouzzolane. I place some pieces of gypsum around the plants. In such a media, plants grow slightly slower but have a stronger root system.

Pot : plastic, colour terracotta, diameter 12.5cm, height 12cm.

Cultivation : I think that it is important to have an airy situation in the greenhouse. To avoid  air stagnation, I use a fan 24h/24h all the year round. Watering is also very important : from May to November, I let the media drying slightly between two watering. I am watering from above the pot using rain water. Always avoid wetting the rosette. Just before the winter bulb is formed, you have  to let the pot to dry. It is important to keep the pot totally dry (bone dry) or you will loose your plant. No watering but an atmospheric humidity around 80%. The bulb can be buried at least 1 cm under the surface ! The mentioned months are indicative and  can change according to your own growing conditions. In fact, when Pinguicula medusina stops to produce its carnivorous leaves, you have to stop watering and let the pot to dry out completely. Inversely, when the plant begin to produce in June its carnivorous leaves, you have to progressively start watering again the pot. 

Temperatures : during growth, day temperature is about 25°C  but can reach 35°C when the sun is shining on the greenhouse despite the use of shading covers. Night temperature is around 20°C.

During resting : day/night temperatures over freezing point. The lower temperature observed was - 4°C. I use an electronic petroleum heater.

Flowering period : Not yet observed.


Multiplication : I don't know how the seeds look like. The plants can be propagated easily using non-carnivorous leaves separated from the bulb at the end of winter. You only have to carefully tear out the totality of the leaf including the white base as the plantlets will sprout from this area. As small plantlets are formed at the end of the leaves, this allow you a fast vegetative multiplication. These young plants are only produced at the upper end of the leaf and produce roots very soon allowing the plantlet to anchor in the soil. You can help the plantlet to anchor by burying it a little.


PICTURES: (click to enlarge)



Pinguicula medusina, emergence of the intermediate leaves


Photo : Eric Partrat

May - 2001


Pinguicula medusina, first “summer leaves” with first plantlet.


Photo : Eric Partrat

June - 2001

Pinguicula medusina


Photo : Eric Partrat

August - 2001

Pinguicula medusina, with plantlet on the left


Photo : Eric Partrat

August - 2001

Pinguicula medusina in perfect health


Photo : Eric Partrat

August - 2001

Pinguicula medusina 

Photo : Eric Partrat

september - 2002

The famous plantlets produced by P. medusina during his growing season.

Photo : Vic Brown.


Pinguicula medusina grown in pure gypsum. The winter rosette are deeply buried  in the media. Only the old dried summer leaves (and my white tubes) can reveal the resting plants.


Photo : E.Partrat

March 2005

Close-up of a flower of P. medusina.

Photo : Vic Brown.

Close-up of a flower of P. heterophylla from Conception Papalo.

Photo : Markus Welge

Close-up of a flower of P. medusina.

Photo : Vic Brown


Close-up of a flower of P. heterophylla from Conception Papalo.

Photo : Markus Welge