Environment Notes – The Sundews of Ireland and Britain

Sundews, or Drosera, are a large genus of carnivorous plant with at least 194 separate species. Of these, 3 are found in Ireland and the British Isles.

They are similar in form and generally share the same habitat, which are acidic wet or waterlogged bogs and wet flushes in moorland.
Sundews are characterised by a basal rosette of reddish/orange leaves that are covered in hairs, each one topped by a sweet, sticky excretion. These attract and then ensnare small insects, often curling inward to further ensnare the victim. Prey insects are subsequently digested by enzymes secreted from glands in the leaves.
These insects are the predominant source of nutrition for the plant, the roots are weak and provide only moisture and anchorage for the sundew.

Between June and August the plants will produce a single stem from the centre of the rosette, on which bloom several small white flowers, and the black seeds subsequently produced are the plants means of reproduction. The plants are perennial, and will re-emerge each spring for many seasons.

Can you tell the difference between them?

Great Sundew – Drosera anglica , insectivorous plant of waterlogged bogs and moors, common in the west of Ireland and Britain but scarce elsewhere.

Oblong-leaved Sundew, Drosera intermedia, found on wet heaths and moors in the west of Ireland and locally common throughout the British Isles.

Round-leaved Sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, widespread throughout Ireland and Britain on wet heaths and bogs. (Notice the incurving hairs trapping the insect prey in the above photograph).