Status: Not Listed
Sundews are “flypaper” plants that trap prey in sticky hairs on their leaves. They make up one of the largest groups 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 prey, powerful adhesive to trap it, and enzymes to digest it. Once an insect becomes stuck, nearby tentacles coil around the insect and smother it. Sundews can reach a height of up to 10 inches (25 centimeters). However, some species are tall and with a vine-like appearance, while others hug the ground, making their size variable.
Sundews are found in most of the United States, except some portions of the Southwest. They prefer bog habitats and soils lacking nitrogen.
These plants feed on insects. Mosquitoes are abundant in the sundews’ preferred habitat and can make up a significant portion of their diet in these locations. Sundews can kill a trapped insect in about 15 minutes, but may digest it over a few weeks. The plant’s deadly secretions are harmless to the assassin bug, which hides on the plant to take advantage of helpless victims.
Many species of sundew can self-pollinate, while others reproduce through seeds.
Some species of sundew are listed as threatened or endangered in specific states. The primary threat to sundews is loss of wetland habitat.
Early settlers extracted a red fluid from sundews to use as ink.
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
The National Wildlife® Photo Contest celebrates the power of photography to advance conservation and connect people with wildlife and the outdoors.Enter Today
President and CEO Collin O’Mara reveals in a TEDx Talk why it is essential to connect our children and future generations with wildlife and the outdoors—and how doing so is good for our health, economy, and environment.Watch Now
Ditch the disposables and make the switch to sustainable products.Shop Now
Search, discover, and learn about wildlife. Anywhere, any time.Get the Apps
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.