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Sundews

Sundews

Genus: Drosera

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Plant

Description

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.

Range

Sundews are found in most of the United States, except some portions of the Southwest. They prefer bog habitats and soils lacking nitrogen.

Diet

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.

Life History

Many species of sundew can self-pollinate, while others reproduce through seeds.

Conservation

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

Fun Fact

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

Sources

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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