Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Post 433 - Simply Stunning and Slightly Scary Sundews

Sundew (Drosera rotundiflora) with its prey
Hey everyone, today's post 433 and I was out at Whitby about a week ago and on the way back there was a reserve, Fen Bog,  that I'd been to once before, but not fully walked and explored around it. So we went to have another look around it and it was a beautiful reserve with mostly flowers and wildlife of the botanical kind. One species highlighted at this reserve were Sundews. A lovely type of plant that I've not actually seen before or since!

I learnt quite a few new words today researching these! The venus fly traps of Europe, they are fascinating plants. So here are some facts about them:

  • Well the first thing I know from what I saw is that they are carnivorous. As you can see in some of the photos they eat insects.
  • They use 'stalked mucilaginous glands' to lure, trap and eventually digest them. You can often see the sticky mucilage glistening in the sun on dewy mornings - so you can see where its name comes from.
  • The insects are attracted by the sweet, sticky mucilage. When they touch this it literally sticks them to the plant, as they struggle they touch more of the plant and so it gets worse.
  • The insect either just gets exhausted and dies or the sticky secretions suffocate it by blocking its breathing tubes or spiracles.
  • You can see on the time lapse video I've linked here how the plant closes more of its stalks around the insect. 

  • The secretions contain a number of enzymes which then digest the insect into a nutrient soup which the the Sundew can absorb.
  • The only do this in the spring and summer. In the Autumn they produce smaller stalked leaves which protect the bud of the plant which then effectively hibernates for the winter.
Even in the afternoon you could see
the 'dew' glistening in the sun
  • The genera of Sundews, Drosera, is one of the largest in carnivorous plants, with 194 species!
  • They can grow flowers ranging from one centimetre to one metre! This depends on the species.
  • Some climbing species can grow to 3 metres in the case of the Drosera erythrogyne, which is a species endemic to Australia.
  • They live usually in moist but sometimes in constantly wet places with acidic soils and high levels of sunlight.So the boggy, peaty environment of Fen Bog is ideal!
  • A lot of Sundews are self-producing and will self-pollinate when they close. Most of the time, quite a few of the small, black seeds grow in the ground around.
  • Sundews are found all over the world from Alaska down to New Zealand. They're more diverse in Australia which has about half of all known species.
A group of Sundew plants at FenBog
  • In some European countries, such as Finland, France Germany and Bulgaria, Drosera is a protected species. But there isn't much threat to them anywhere else.
  • Sundews have been a medical plant since the 12th century when an Italian doctor described them as a herbal remedy for coughs under the name 'herbal sole'.
  • Sundews have been used as a medicine to strengthen the heart, to treat sunburn, to prevent freckles and other things that are true, and some that are wrong.
  • Sundew tea was used to treat any diseases to do with bronchi such as bronchitis, as well as asthma and coughing.

Here are some links to some more information:

Carnivorous Plants - Sundews

Kew Gardens - Drosera rotundiflora

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Beautiful shots here Zach, I love all of the different varieties and colours - stunning! - Tasha