Help us save Drosera rotundifolia - an insect eating bog plant
The round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) is one of Britain’s three native carnivorous plants and traps its prey using sticky tentacles. You can help Kew safeguard this plant for our future by adopting a seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
Introducing round-leaved sundew
Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) is one of Britain’s three native carnivorous plants, the other two being D. anglica and D. intermedia.
There are over 100 species of Drosera found in peat bogs and marshland in all climatic zones of the world, ranging from Canadian arctic regions to tropical Brazil.
The leaves of round-leaved sundew are covered in red ‘tentacles’ that produce a sticky substance called mucilage, often seen glistening in the dewy morning. These sticky tentacles not only give this plant its common name, but also enable it to trap insects.
With an insect is caught on the sticky plant, the tentacles slowly fold in and trap it; a process that can take up to 20 minutes. The plant then starts digesting the insect using enzymes.
Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) has evolved this carnivorous lifestyle in response to its nutrient-poor habitat - cool boggy areas of mountainous regions.
Like other temperate Drosera, round-leaved sundew lie dormant during winter. In Scotland, autumn sees a change in the plants growth, with a slowing of carnivorous leaf production and the bud of the plant being protected by smaller foliage stems.
These stems insulate the dormant bud over winter so the plant is ready to regrow in spring, when it starts to wait for unwary insects to trap. Later in summer the white or pink flowers bloom at the top of hairless, red stems.
Darwin and plants from Kew
The first major book on carnivorous plants was Insectivorous Plants (published 1875) by Charles Darwin, who had received numerous plant specimens from Kew.
Chapter one, Drosera rotundifolia
“During the summer of 1860, I was surprised by finding how large a number of insects were caught by the leaves of the common sun-dew (Drosera rotundifolia) on a heath in Sussex. I had heard that insects were thus caught, but knew nothing further on the subject. I gathered by chance a dozen plants, bearing fifty-six fully expanded leaves, and on thirty-one of these dead insects or remnants of them adhered; and, no doubt, many more would have been caught afterwards by these same leaves, and still more by those as yet not expanded.
On one plant all six leaves had caught more than a single insect. On one large leaf I found the remains of thirteen distinct insects. Flies (Diptera) are captured much oftener than other insects. The largest kind which I have seen caught was a small butterfly (Caenonympha pamphilus); but the Rev. H. M. Wilkinson informs me that he found a large living dragon-fly with its body firmly held by two leaves.”
You can adopt this seed for yourself, or as a gift for £25.
When you Adopt a Seed, you'll receive a personalised certificate, featuring your plant species, as a downloadable PDF document you can print off, and regular updates over the year from the Millennium Seed Bank.
For an additional £2, you can have an Adoption Pack posted (either to you, or direct to a gift recipient) featuring a certificate and a full colour picture of your species (UK only).
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