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Scientific Classification
  • D. aliciae (Australian sundew)
  • D. anglica (English sundew)
  • D. ×belezeana
  • D. brevifolia (dwarf sundew)
  • D. capensis (Cape sundew)
  • D. capillaris (pink sundew)
  • D. filiformis (threadleaf sundew)
  • D. ×hybrida
  • D. intermedia (spoonleaf sundew)
  • D. linearis (slenderleaf sundew)
  • D. ×linglica
  • D. ×obovata
  • D. rotundifolia (roundleaf sundew)
  • D. tracyi (Tracy's sundew)
  • D. ×woodii [1]
Sundew 2.jpg
Sundew in the mountains

Sundews are any of the species of carnivorous plants belonging to the taxonomic genus Drosera. The name "Drosera" comes from the Greek word droseros, meaning "dew-covered." This name was given to the sundew genus because the botanists were reminded of dew shining in the sun when they observed the plant.

We don't know for sure whether or not God created carnivorous plants to eat bugs in the Garden of Eden, but it is unlikely that He did so. Genesis 1:12 says "The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." From this we can argue that plants were not meant to be carnivorous. It is then probable that the sundews may have evolved the necessary parts to survive in their environments. Not evolution like amoeba to monkey, but evolution within a created kind that allows that species to continue living.


General anatomy of a Sundew

The genus Drosera encompasses all plant species that are classified as sundews. Sundews are most easily recognized by the sticky leaf hairs, often referred to as tentacles, that they all possess. These tentacles secrete a sticky substance called mucilage, which gathers at the end of the tentacles and resembles dew drops glistening in the sun, hence the name. If an insect sees this it can get entranced, and if it touches the mucilage, it will get stuck. When this happens, the plant will close in on the insect, and the mucilage will start to digest the bug. This movement is called thigmonasty, which is the movement that some plants display when they are touched (similar to thigmotropism). In some species, the tentacle movements are very fast, and the bug is quickly enclosed. [2] Many sundews grow at a relatively quick pace, but most of them remain very small. In fact, the smallest variety, 'Drosera nitidula', commonly known as the pygmy sundew, does not often reach a size above 1 inch in diameter. [3]

Sundew's flowers are radially symmetrical. They are always perfect, with 5 petals, with the exception of some species which have either 4, or 8-12 petals. Most sundews have very small flowers, many of which rarely get over a half inch long. A few species, however, have flowers that grow 1 and a half inches or more in diameter. For the most part the flowers are either white or pink. The plant's seeds grow in the flower's [[ovary].[4][5][6]


Sundew's, like all flowering plants, reproduce sexually. Because the sundew has specially adapted leaves for catching bugs, so the flowers grow on top of their long stems, where they can be pollinated. This may be so the plant can be pollinated without having a fear of the pollinator getting trapped by it's leaves, but many botanists think that this is simply to make the flowers more noticeable. Once the flowers are pollinated, they continue to grow until mature. Once they reach maturity, the petals fall off of the flower, and the ovary, which, in most species, contains thousands of tiny seeds, and when the ovary ripens, it turns black and bursts, releasing the seeds so they can be dispersed throughout the immediate area.[7]

For the most part, sundew seeds germinate very quickly, often within 3 weeks. Once a sundew sprouts, it will continue to grow, often taking around 2 years to reach adulthood.[8]


Map showing the range of sundews in the U.S.A.

The sundew normally grows in bogs near the coast. However, with the exception of Antarctica, they can be found on nearly every continent. They grow in acidic soil, normally at levels around 5 or 6 pH. While they grow best in moist soil, they have been observed growing in very dry soil. Since they grow in acidic soil, they need to catch bugs as their food source, which are the sundew's source of nitrogen.[9][10]

It isn't clear when the first sundew was documented or discovered, but Charles Darwin did dedicate most of his book, Insectivorous Plants, to their study. He performed many experiments that proved that sundews are carnivorous and also showed some prey trapping mechanisms used by sundews and other insectivorous plants. [11]

Bug Eating

Sundew eating an insect

The sundew is one of several carnivorous plants, and aside from the venus fly trap, it is one of the more commonly known. The sundew grows from the root, and it's leaves are most often found growing next to or on top of the ground. Covering the leaf are leaf hairs, each one with a tiny, sticky drop that the sundew uses to catch insects. Once an insect touches a drop, it gets stuck. As it tries to escape, it wriggles around, and while doing so, gets even more stuck. The sundew's leaf will then curl up over the trapped insect, and once there is absolutely no hope of escape for the insect, the hairs start to secrete digestive enzymes, which start to dissolve the bug. Once the soft parts of the insect are turned into juice and ingested by the plant, it will uncurl, and the dead bug's carcass is released. The sundew then returns to it's previous position and sits in wait for it's next victim. [12][13]

Videos of Sundews Eating Bugs

Carnivorous plant timelapse sundew

Drosera Capensis (Cape Sundew) Eating a Fruit Fly (High Quality/HD Time Lapse)

Drosera capensis - time-lapse