The sundew (Drosera filiformis) is considered a carnivorous plant. Sundews are perennial plants, but have been known to die after flowering because of how weakened the plant becomes. Sundew plants are frequently seen growing right next to one another and in some cases, the leaves even overlap each other.
The sundew is a small plant that matures to a height of just 1 to 8 inches tall. The leaves of this plant form a rosette pattern and lie flat on the ground. The leaves can either look green or red in color, depending upon the amount of sunlight the plant receives. The sundew plant features an abundance of filaments at the tips of each of the four to eight leaves.
From May through August, the sundew plant yields white, pink or red flowers that open in the morning and stay open for several hours. In the spring, long stalks emerge from the center of the plant and extend straight up. Each stalk yields several flowers. These flowers provide the pollen needed to be spread by insects and spread the plant.
The sundew plant prefers soils with an equal mixture of moss and vermiculite or sand. Sundew plants should be planted in direct sunlight and receive plenty of water. Sundew plants are native to boggy sites and woodlands that receive plenty of rainfall. Many of the native climates are very wet during the spring but very dry during the summer months.
How It Works
The ends of the tentacles of the sundew plant feature glands that secrete drops of a sticky, mucilaginous liquid that traps insects. Insects become trapped by the hairs and secretion produced by the plant and, as the insect becomes stuck, the individual leaves roll down to encase the insect within the leaf. Leaves that close on an insect stay closed for four to six days while the sundew absorbs the nutrients from the insect. Each trap lives long enough to close two to four times.
Why Sundews Eat Insects
The sundew plant obtains valuable nutrients from the insects it traps and consumes. It has developed this ability as a way to compensate for lack of nutrients it receives from the soil in its native climates.