Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Coastal BC Plants: Carnivorous Sundews (Drosera)


There's a small plant that grows on my floating logs just above the water line. It's quite prolific during the warm summer months, growing in tightly packed groups clinging to the wood surface and wedged in cracks and crevices where moisture is plentiful.

Sundews are unique both in appearance and function. They are a perennial insect eating plant (visions of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors!).

Click on the picture to make it larger.
Sundews grow in moist bogs and wet meadows, but they obviously like floating logs too.

As you can see, there's one leaf per stem and the stems are arranged in a radiating pattern close to the log's surface. The round fleshy leaves are surrounded by reddish "hairs" that exude a sticky fluid that is used to catch their insect prey. Out of the center of the plant a tall thin stalk rises and is topped with small white flowers.

Sundews are photosynthetic, but augment their "diet" by catching and digesting insects. This allows them to thrive in nutrient poor environments, especially those low in nitrogen. Insects like mosquitoes, midges and gnats better look out. Mine were even munching on several large (by Sundew standards) blue damsel flies. The dew may look tasty, but it's the last supper for the unwary.

For identification, I use Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon. It is available from or I highly recommend it because of the excellent pictures, illustrations and descriptions. It is specific to the region and quite comprehensive. -- Margy


  1. I've always been intrigued by insect-eating plants!
    What a great post!

  2. Great info on a fascinating plant.