Aug 10 2013
Here’s a closeup of another plant whose leaves bear tiny jewel-like drops, but they aren’t benign like jewelweed.
This is slender-leaved sundew (Drosera linearis), a member of the Drosera genus of carnivorous plants whose mucilage droplets attract, trap and digest insect prey. The drops are so sticky that insects can’t escape. The tentacles are so sensitive to touch that at the footfall of an insect they bend to entrap the victim. The insect dies within 15 minutes.
It seems ironic that the plant also produces flowers and holds them high to attract pollinators. Isn’t it counterproductive to eat the insects it depends on for pollination? But it doesn’t. The pollinators aren’t attracted to the droplets so they don’t get hurt.
When the flower blooms the plant looks like this.
Two species of sundews bloom in spaghum bogs in western Pennsylvania from June through August. The slender-leaved sundew is relatively rare. Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) is more common.
The flowers only open in strong sunlight. My favorite place to see them is at Spruce Flats bog at Laurel Summit State Park.
(photos by Dianne Machesney)