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Drosera aliciae
Scientific classification

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Drosera cv. 'Ivan's Paddle'
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D. regia digesting a bug

Sundews are members of the genus Drosera, consisting of about 150 species of carnivorous plants. Examples of the sundews can be found on every continent but Antarctica; they are especially abundant in South Africa, Australia and South America. Some, such as the Pink Sundew, D. capillaris, and the Dwarf Sundew, D. brevifolia, are found on the eastern and Gulf coasts of North America. They can be found in most soil conditions, in acidic, sandy, stony, and boggy places.

The leaves of these plants have tentacles with drops of a sticky substance called mucilage at the ends; insects get stuck in this substance and become entangled. The substance then digests the helpless insect. In all members of the genus, the tentacles on the leaf bend toward the captured insect by thigmotropism; in most, the leaf-blade is also capable of rapid growth. In the Cape sundew (D. capensis), which has long, narrow leaves, the leaf usually folds over the prey item completely. The movement of the tentacles is particularly fast in some species, notably D. burmannii.

The morphology of sundews is extremely variable. Although all are herbs, they range in size from the Australian pygmy sundews such as D. pygmaea, the leaves of which are usually about 5 mm long, to the king sundew, D. regia and fork-leaf sundews (D. binata) which may have leaves 60 cm long. Most sundews forms small, tight rosettes (as seen in D. aliciae, the Alice sundew), or bear their leaves on short stems (as seen in D. capensis, the Cape sundew); however, the tuberous rainbow sundews, such as D. peltata form long wiry stems, which in D. gigantea (the giant sundew) may reach 1 m in height. Some of the Queensland sundews, such as D. schizandra, appear to be in the evolutionary process of loosing their adaptation to carnivory: their tentacles are much reduced and sparser compared to more typical species.

Several groups of sundews aestivate or hibernate during unfavourable seasons: the round-leaf sundew D. rotundifolia dies back to hibernacula over winter, whilst the tuberous sundews such as D. peltata and D. macrophylla, which are mostly native to Australia, die back during the dry summer months to a resting tuber. The pygmy sundews, such as D. pygmaea, generally do not die back, but do seasonally produce small scales (gemmae), which aid in asexual reproduction.

Like all flowering plants, sundews reproduce sexually by means of flowers. Since their leaves are adapted to catching insects, most sundews produce flowers on long scapes, which raise the flowers, and therefore the approach of would-be pollinators, safely out of harm's way.

There are upwards of a hundred and fifty species of sundew, which are listed below. The classification of this genus has been recently revised: the list below reflects the classification of Jan Schlauer (available at Omnisterra (, rather than Allen Lowrie's older scheme.


da:Soldug (Drosera) de:Sonnentau es:Rocío del sol fr:Droséra nl:zonnedauw


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