Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Drosera rotundifolia L.
DROSERACEAE (Sundew Family)
EtymologyDrosera means dewy, from the Greek droseros, in reference to the glistening gland-tipped hairs on the leaves; rotundifolia means round-leaved, from the Latin: rotundus = round + folium = leaf.
DescriptionAlong with pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) and bladderworts (Utricularia spp.), sundews are insectivorous plants of nutrient-poor bogs and peatlands that obtain nitrogen and other nutrients by trapping and digesting insects and other small organisms. Charles Darwin, in the 1870's, discovered that sundews digest pollen, spores, and seeds as well as insects. A tiny, perennial herb 8-10" tall, round-leaved sundew forms loose clusters in drier, more acidic areas of the bog mat or peat. The round leaves are densely covered with red, glandular hairs that glisten with a sticky dew, first attracting then ensnaring insects. As an insect struggles to escape, its movements trigger a rapid cell-growth mechanism in the hairs and leaves of the sundew that causes the leaves to fold around the prey. The sundew then produces an anesthetic that numbs the insect and digestive enzymes that dissolve it. Nutrients are absorbed into the plant tissues by the hairs; only the prey's exoskeleton remains.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height4-10 inches
LeavesRound, as broad or broader than they are long, narrower toward the stalk; 1/8 --1/2" in diameter on stalks 1/2 - 2" long; with red, glandular hairs topped with drops of sticky dew; form a basal rosette.
Flower/InflorescenceTiny (1/4"), white (sometimes pinkish), 5 petals; in one-sided racemes along a leafless, wiry stalk up 10" tall; nodding and sometimes forked at the tip; flowers open one at a time.
Flowering PeriodJune-August
FruitCapsule, tiny (less than 1/16"), 3-valved, many light brown seeds.
HabitatBogs, pond margins, open swamps.
RangeGreenland to Alaska; south to Georgia, Illinois, and California.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett