Posts Tagged With: sundew

Sundews

You do not need to be a rock-licker, tree-hugger, or friend of the bunnies to appreciate the intricacies of the web of life that surrounds us. You might need to sit quietly and pay attention once in a while, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes, though, sitting quietly isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to crawl on your hands and knees into wet sphagnum.

Sundew

Acidic and poor in nutrients, mats of sphagnum are not a good environment for most plants, unless they can find a way to feed themselves. Sundews have done just that, trapping insects with sticky tentacles and then producing enzymes that slowly turn bugs into soup, which is then absorbed through their leaves.

Breakfast

I once told someone where they could see sundews for themselves, cautioning that they are small and live in fragile surroundings. That person came back disappointed, having not seen a one. When I returned to the spot I was disappointed to find the whole area had been trampled underfoot as they searched.

Sometimes, you have to crawl.

Easy to Miss

Sundews can move their tentacles, curling over their prey and holding it close for more efficient digestion.

Huggin’ a Bug

They also produce flowers, which will be open any day now. Self-fertile, they can pollinate themselves, producing seeds from which the next generation will sprout.

Sundew Flower Stalk

They feed themselves and they pollinate themselves. Other than poor, acidic soil in a buggy sphagnum patch, what more could a carnivorous plant need?

(More photos of sundews can be found in the new gallery at Nonesuch Mountain Images.)

Categories: nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Photo Phrenzy, Part the Third: Carnivorous Plants!

There are swamps and bogs and all sorts of wet spots full of mosses and ferns around Fish in a Barrel Pond. Appearing lush and green, these areas are actually highly acidic and lacking in nutrients; very challenging places to live if you are a plant. The plants that thrive here in spite of it all are able to do so because they posess special traits, and some are even able to extract nutrients from insects they capture.

I have seen pitcher plants, deep in the bogs of Maine, and I have seen Venus flytraps in plastic cups on the counter at the local garden center but until last week I had never seen a sundew. Insects are attracted by a sweet scent and become trapped on sticky hairs on the sundew’s leaves. The leaves then slowly curl around the prey, enzymes digest the meal, and the sundew gets what it needs to live, bloom and set seed.

On a recent walk with our consulting foresters, I asked if there might be sundews growing nearby and within ten minutes they found several clusters, growing in the peat. I must admit I somehow expected something a little more carnivorous looking…

but it’s still cool to see something I had never seen before:

Round Leaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

 

Categories: nature, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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