Drosera anglica

These photographs were taken along the edge of a small lake in Brandywine Falls Provincial Park during late July (after the conclusion of the Whistler BioBlitz). Between the solid soil of the shore and the body of the lake was a 10-15m (33-50ft) zone of thick sphagnum moss — perhaps the first successional steps in the formation of a raised bog. Within this thin ribbon of moss grew both species of sundews native to British Columbia, Drosera rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew) and Drosera anglica, or great sundew. Despite the descriptor “great”, plants grow to approx. 18cm (7in.) tall. In order to avoid trampling the plants in this fairly fragile plant community, I had to locate individuals growing near the edge of the mossy mat (on the soil side) and photograph them with most of my body on the soil — sloped downward, with the blood rushing to my head.

Great sundew has a circumboreal distribution, occurring in much of central and northern Europe, northeast Asia and northern North America. It can, however, be found as far south as northern California and Portugal. Interestingly, Wikipedia and the International Carnivorous Plant Society both cite the species as also being native to Kauaʻi as a subtropical variant (in which the seeds do not require exposure to cool winter temperatures to sprout), but the USDA GRIN database does not make mention of this as part of the species’ distribution.

As you may note from the second photograph (or the third image, cropped from the second), the species is insectivorous (I was fortunate to see this plant capture its prey while photographing it). Upon capturing an insect with its stalked mucilaginous glands, a thigmotropic response occurs, such that the tentacles, and eventually leaves, surround the prey and maximize digestive surface.

For the interest of local readers, there are usually a few sundews available at the Garden’s annual indoor plant sale in mid-September.

Drosera anglica
Drosera anglica
Drosera anglica

19 responses to “Drosera anglica”

  1. Earl Blackstock

    What a wonderful photo and write-up. Thank you for your contribution to nature and beauty.

  2. quin

    how very nice to see such clear shots of these little critters, especially one of them having dinner! thank you for the description of finding your subject but avoiding trampling the bog’s residents – may we all tred lightly upon delicate communities

  3. annie Morgan

    Beautiful photos – and so clever of you to be right there at lunch time.

  4. annie Morgan

    Daniel, excuse the double post but thank you for telling me I’m still me!

  5. Mary DeLand

    Magnificent photography! Thank you for all the effort you expended to give us this lovely treasure!

  6. Marie Hitchman

    I was greatly surprised to see Drosera anglica as I hiked
    the Alakai trail on Kauai at about 3920’elevation on 1/17/10.
    I had previously only seen it at Mt. Rainier.
    I managed a simple snapshot of it from the boardwalk.
    Your shots are wonderful by comparison

  7. phillip

    wow….great pics…the new site…is making me dizzy…i’m 230 years old…windows ’98 was a challenge…XP knocked me down…vista…a waste of my time…lets see …where was i…oh yes…great pics…change is good for growing..but not for a old man…

  8. Cyndy Henderson

    At first I was a bit confused with the new format, but thanks to your concise
    explanation, it became clear, just as clear as the precision photos which grace the pages. You are appreciated, Daniel!

  9. Wendy Cutler

    How convenient for the flowers to show up against such a perfect background for the photos, which are wonderful. Well, maybe “convenient” isn’t exactly the word considering what it took to get the photos. I enjoyed the “native to Kauai” Wikipedia article, and was surprised to see the photos of the same plant with the white six-petaled blossoms.
    I never would have thought they’d grow as indoor plants, so presumably would be OK outside on a balcony during the summer. Hmm – do they eat aphids and whiteflies?

  10. Tracy Evans

    The Hortus Botanicus, here in Leiden Netherlands, has a marvelous exhibition of insectivorous plants. I had no idea they were so varied. Daniel, your photos are magnificent.

  11. Karen Kennedy

    Great eye for composition colour and detail. Spectacular!

  12. Janet Davis

    Thanks Daniel for this up-close look at the sticky “dew” and the dinner of this little drosera. I know how difficult it is to shoot bog plants without invading their habitat. I wonder how long it might take before the sundew commences its tentacle movement and curls around the insect to secrete the enzymes that will injest it? Probably after the light has gone on Brandywine Lake! Sundews are interesting for undergoing “acid growth”, a response to growing in acid bogs that utilizes a protein called expansin which triggers the expansion and contraction of cell walls for “growth”, rather than normal cell division. (There’s an article on Wikipedia).

  13. elizabeth a airhart

    we used have an add on tv here in the states the little boy would
    look up and say” i can’t believe i ate the the whole thing”
    the photos are just so good not many of us would ever get this close
    its so pretty and the lighting shows off the plant so well
    yes the site takes getting used to watch out for the speed bumps
    thank you daniel bonjour little shops of horror every where watch your step

  14. leanne

    ive always found it hard to get a good photo of sundew. these shots are great. thanks!

  15. Ryan Kitko

    Great post. Yes, indeed there is a population at Kauaʻi. This is especially interesting, as is the circumboreal distribution of D. anglica given that it arose from a hybrid of D. rotundifolia and D. linearis, the latter of which has a very restricted range from Montana to Northern Michigan. Did D. linearis undergo distribution reduction, having formerly been circumboreal itself? Or did the successful fertile amphidiploid hybrid D. anglica spread far and wide after hybridization. Was there just one or many hybridization events? All very interesting questions we don’t yet have answers to.

  16. Nuri Pierce

    Thank you so very much for your site. We learn and enjoy and it is a pleasure to find a new and unexpected treat every day. So thank you very much. That said, I loved your old format better because we could enjoy 5 plants and not only one. Is there any way to continue to do that in this new format? If so, please let us know. Thank you

  17. Daniel Mosquin

    Nuri, if you mean the links to entries from previous years, you have to now click on the Archives link (either at top of page, right above the comments section, or bottom of page).
    If you mean the most recent entries, click on the Main link (in all of the same locations)

  18. Nuri Pierce

    Thank you so very much. I have found the other entries.

  19. Daniel Mosquin

    Chris Czajkowski, who often contributes images to BPotD, sent along the following note and images in response:
    “I have huge lawns of this stuff in my backyard. The overview picture is only part of the possibly millions of plants in this meadow. … The damselfly was still alive. There were lots of other dragonfly carcasses in the meadow. … I have seen copious blooming only once. Usually there are just one or two flowers. Taken late July.”
    And the images:

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