Sundews - Drosera species
 
Drosera, which are more commonly known as the sundews, are one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, with nearly 200 species worldwide. In the UK, we have three native species. They are easily overlooked in the wild where they grow on wet heath lands and boggy areas. They all lure, capture, and digest insects using tentacle like stalked mucilaginous glands covering their leaf surface. As with all carnivorous plants the insects are used to supplement the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which they grow.
 
Both the botanical name (from the Greek δρόσος: "drosos" = "dew, dewdrops") as well as the English common name (sundew, derived from Latin ros solis, meaning "dew of the sun") refer to the glistening drops of mucilage at the tip of each tentacle that resemble drops of early morning dew. Mucilage is one of the stickiest substances known to man and has been used for a long time as the basis for glue on such as stamps, envelopes and jar labels. If you touch the tentacles on a sundew you soon realise why.
 
Insects are attracted to what looks like drops of nectar but on alighting become firmly stuck. As they frantically try to escape they become more ‘stuck’. The tentacles and leaf then start to wrap around the insect which eventually suffocates. The enzymes released by the leaves digest the insect and the plant absorbs nutrients it needs.
 
In different parts of the world sundews grow quite differently are adapted well to the local conditions. Some prefer cooler to moderate temperatures, and grow well in low to medium humidity whilst some thrive only if given hot temperatures and very high humidity. While most sundews are very small there are also climbing plants that reach a length up to 3 m.
 
In Europe sundew species have been used in folk medicine since the Middle Ages, as remedies for coughs and respiratory ailments. The English Round Leaved Sundew is used in Homeopathy to treat, amongst other things, whooping cough.

 

Various Pygmy Sundews

The pygmy Sundews are almost all found only in Western Australia, a land of Mediterranean climate. During the moist and cool winters, these plants flower and grow in glandular spendor. Yet even in full growth they earn their nickname of "pygmy" sundews because they are so tiny! Their leaves are often nearly microscopic in structure. Yet, while built on a tiny scale, they are delightful to behold, like tiny jewels and great to photograph.

Round Leaved Sundew
Round Leaved Sundew
Round Leaved Sundew
Round Leaved Sundew flower spike
Round Leaved Sundew
Round Leaved Sundew flower
 
 
Fork Leaved Sundew - Drosera binata
 
Drosera binata, commonly known as the Fork-leaved sundew, is one of my favorite to photograph as it is just so “showy” with long forked leaves all covered in shiny red sticky tentacles. They are a large (for carnivorous plants) bush like perennial sundews native to Australia and New Zealand. The specific Latin name binata or "having pairs" is a reference to the leaves, which are deeply divided or forked which is quite unique in sundews.
 
The leaves start to form as tight spirals which are great fun to photograph as they unfurl. A variant binata multifida takes the leaf dividing a stage further splitting into 4 or more long narrow strands. Great photographs of this variant can be achieved using a shallow depth of filed to get one or two in sharp focus with all the others as a colorful backdrop.
 
Forkleaved Sundew leaf unfurling
Forkleaved Sundew leaf unfurling
Forkleaved Sundew coseup
Forkleaved Sundew leaf
 ------- Basic two branched version showing leaf unfurling -------
 
Forkleaved Sundrew Mulitifidia
Four leaves unfurling
Forkleaved Sundrew Mulitifidia
Close up showing leaves branching
Forkleaved Sundrew Mulitifidia
Close up showing leaves branching
Forest of Drosera Binata
------- Multi branched version -------
 
Forkleaved Sundrew leaf upclose
Forkleaved Sundrew leaf unfurling
Tightly furled leaf
Forkleaved Sundrew leaf unfurling
Tightly furled leaf
Forkleaved Sundrew leaf upclose
------- Close up of leaves -------
 
Tropical African Sundew - Drosera nidiformis
 
Drosera nidiformis is a native of South Africa and has a characteristic upright leaf with an ovate end covered in sticky tentacles. Leaves on mature specimens range from 1 to 2 cm in length. Petioles or leaf stalks can grow 1.5 to a maximum of approximately 5 cm making this a relatively large sundew. Upon capture of prey, the leaf curls around it to bring it into contact with as many digestive glands as possible.
  
Drosera Nidiformis Upright leaf form
Drosera Nidiformis and fly
This fly landed on the leaf then struggeld to escape becoming more and more stuck.
Drosera Nidiformis and fly
This fly landed on the leaf then struggeld to escape becoming more and more stuck.
Drosera Nidiformis and fly
This fly landed on the leaf then struggeld to escape becoming more and more stuck.
------- A fly meets a sticky end-------
 
Tropical African Sundew - Drosera scorpioides
 
Drosera scorpioides, or the shaggy sundew, is a pygmy sundew native to the Jarrah Forest region and southern coasts of Southwest Australia. Notable for its unusually large size, D. scorpioides can produce rosettes measuring up to two inches in diameter and specimens may attain a height of up to 100 millimeters.
  
Drosera Nidiformis
Sometimes the leaves grow out horizontally and then a shallow depth of field gives an insects eye view.
Drosera Nidiformis Upright leaf form
Leaves often grow opposite each other and make great photos
Drosera Nidiformis Upright leaf form
 
Cape Sundew - Drosera capensis
 
Drosera capensis or Cape sundew is very easy to cultivate and is perhaps the most common version in general cultivation. It is native to the Cape in South Africa and produces strap-like leaves, up to 3.5 cm long (not including the leaf stalk) and 0.5 cm wide, which are covered in brightly coloured sticky tentacles. When insects are first trapped the leaves roll lengthwise toward the centre. This movement is surprisingly fast for a plant, with completion in thirty minutes.
 
Cape Sundew
Cape Sundew
Cape Sundew
Cape Sundew