Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sundew, Some Don’t

Growing alongside the pitcher plants were sundews. Here is one with its little fruit.


B first introduced me to sundews years ago in our wanderings in the woods of this area. They are about the size of a fifty-cent piece and could be missed in weedy areas.

Droseraceae is the family name and Drosera is the  genus for 180 species of sundew plants found around the world and on every continent except Antarctica. Droseros is a Greek word, meaning “dewy.”

The sticky gel makes these perennials  look like they have  dew on them all day long. It is also the sticky gel that attracts insects that are then stuck on it and die, either from exhaustion or when the gel clogs up their spiracles (breathing apparatus). Enzymes then dissolve the insect and the plant uses it for nutrients. Because carnivorous plants grow in poor soil, they have adapted alternative ways to meet their nutritional needs.

Two sundews are on Florida’s protected plant list:

(So, don’t ‘dew it!)

Drosera filiformis
threadleaf sundew (or dew thread) is listed as “endangered”.

Drosera intermedia 
spoonleaf sundew or water sundew is listed as “threatened”.

I am pretty sure that this is the dew thread:


These were about 8” tall. I took a picture because we had no idea what they were.

It is possible that the red sundew above is the water sundew, but we are not sure.

Parts of these plants were being used for treating coughs as early as the 12th century. Today, sundews are grown commercially for use in 100’s of different medications, most of which are being used to treat breathing problems.

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