Scientific Name: Genus Drosera

Description: Sundews are 'flypaper' plants that trap prey in sticky hairs on their leaves. They comprise one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants. Long tentacles protrude from their leaves, each with a sticky gland at the tip. These droplets look like dew glistening in the sun, thus their name. The glands produce nectar to attract, powerful adhesive to trap and enzymes to digest prey. Once an insect becomes stuck, nearby tentacles coil over and smother the insect.

Size: Sundews can reach a height of up to 10 inches. However, some species are tall and with a vine-like appearance, while others hug the ground, making their size variable.

Diet: They feed on insects. Mosquitoes are abundant in the sundews’ preferred habitat, and can make up a significant portion of their diet in those locations. Sundews can kill a trapped insect in about 15 minutes, but may digest it over a few weeks. Sundews’ deadly secretions are harmless to the assassin bug, which hides on the plant to take advantage of helpless victims.

Habitat: Sundews prefer bog habitat and soils lacking nitrogen.

Range: Most of the United States, except some portions of the Southwest.

Life History and Reproduction: Many species of sundew can self-pollinate, while others reproduce through seeds.

Fun Fact: Early settlers extracted a red fluid from sundews to use as ink.

Conservation Status: Some species of sundew are listed as threatened or endangered in specific states. The primary threat to sundews is loss of wetland habitat.

Additional Resources:
Cool Plants for Kids: 8 that Explode, Eat Bugs, or Stick to You  

Meat-eating Plants, BBC Nature  


Botanical Society of America
International Carnivorous Plant Society 
Lyons, Janet, and Sandra Jordan. Walking the Wetlands: a Hiker's Guide to Common Plants and Animals of Marshes, Bogs, and Swamps. New York: Wiley, 1989. Print.
USDA Plants Database 


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