Sundews – ‘Flypaper’ Traps
As a child I remember my father using a sticky strip of brown paper to catch and control flies. He would hang it from the ceiling near the garage door. It looked innocent enough but that fly paper always had flies stuck to it. Did Sundews provide the inspiration to design those fly papers?
The Sundew in the photo is one of many in my collection. This is the only species of sundew growing alongside my carnivorous plants….for now! Introducing the Tropical Sundew or Drosera burmannii.
My Chance Encounter With Sundews
About 7 years ago my cousin gave me a Venus Flytrap that wasn’t looking too healthy. Around the base of the plant I noticed a couple of small Sundews with small pink flowers (these are the same plants which have multiplied throughout my nursery). A couple of months later I starting seeing small Sundews starting to spread among my Venus flytraps. My natural miniature garden had evolved!
The Power Of Self Pollination
Now I can safely say that my Sundews have spread throughout my carnivorous plant collection. The small pink flowers bloom in the morning and close by noon. I haven’t seen bees or insects pollinate the flowers suggesting they are self pollinating. It’s the action of the flowers opening and closing that results in self pollination. That probably explains why the flowers only open briefly.
I have discovered that Sundews are effective at catching aphids. These are small sap sucking pests which can affect North American pitcher plants and Venus flytraps. Growing with other carnivorous plants Sundews act as organic pest controllers that are effective at catching the smaller insects. The Sundews (or unsung heroes) will not only look after your main plants but will get a good feed in the process.
Drosera Burmanni may be small (around 3 cm) in diameter but they are one of the fastest moving Sundews. On the the outside of the leaves are special trip tentacles which fold inwards quickly (within a couple of seconds) when triggered by movement. These tentacles don’t have any dew and help to transfer the victim towards the center of the leaf where it’s sticky.