Sundews

Sundews are another family of carnivorous plants which call the pine barrens home.  Three species of sundews occur in bogs, swamps, and other wet, sandy places.  Like other carnivorous plants, they supplement their normal nutritional intake from the pine barren’s poor soils by capturing and digesting insects.

I photographed this spatulate-leaved sundew (Drosera intermedia) while on a botany field trip in Warren Grove, New Jersey.  Note the long-stalked leaves are covered with short hairs.  Each hair exudes dew-like drops which happen to be very sticky.  Unsuspecting insects are attracted to the leaves and become entangled by these sticky hairs.  As the insect struggles to free itself, the leaf slowly wraps around it and completes the trap.

This is a thread-leaved sundew (Drosera filiformis), photographed on the same field trip.  The leaves of this sundew develop into erect, unbranched stems that can be 6 to 16 inches long. These stems are covered with short, gladular hairs tipped with a dew-drop of sticky liquid.

Here’s a close-up of a thread-leaved sundew which shows hundreds and hundreds of glandular hairs – an effective trap for any insect unfortunate enough to come to close to the sundew’s leaves.

The thread-leaved sundew produces numbers of rose-pink to ruby flowers from mid-June through late August.  I was fortunate enough to have this flowering plant pointed out to me by a fellow field tripper.

The round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) also grows in the pine barrens but is quite small and easily overlooked.  I have yet to find one, but will post a photo as soon as I do.  I find all of the carnivorous plants of the pine barrens quite facinating, as I hope you do too.

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