I decided to whip up a quick article on sundews but then researched them. Oh glory! So much to learn and so little time to do it. Why are we humans so intelligent and yet so stupid as we obsess about minor things and harm ourselves and our environment when there is so much more to our world?
The genus name Drosera comes from the Greek word “dewy” referring to modified leaves with sticky tentacles they use to catch insects. When an insect lands on them, tentacles rapidly wrap around it and exude an amazing brew of enzymes that turns them into soup – even the hard exoskeleton (chitin is a protein). Yum!
Sundews have conventional flowers with numerous styles (pollen collecting bits), and have the flowers well above the leaves (possibly to avoid insect pollinators being eaten). Vegetation colour varies with much redder forms on waterlogged and infertile soils, and parts more exposed to light.
1 Sundews with bulbs. The bulb enables them to survive over summer, use early season soil water and nutrients, and can survive without catching insects. Subcategories include:
1a Climbers. These are the most noticeable ones that generally use other plants as support. The Bridal Rainbow Drosera macrantha occurs throughout Foxes Lair, but in more open country elsewhere you mainly see the lovely Sunny Rainbow Drosera subhirtella. Cup shaped leaf blades directly absorb the insect soup.
1b Fan-leaved sundews resemble free standing climbers but are more compact and have a basal rows of leaves. These don’t occur in Foxes lair but local species are Drosera porrecta and Drosera ramulosa.
A few Red-leaved Sundew Drosera bulbosa plants occur on the southern side of the Claypit.
The spectacular Painted Sundew Drosera zonaria only flowers after fire. None of these occur at Foxes Lair but lovely clumps occur at Yilliminning Rock and Toolibin cemetery.
Water gaining patches in the clay soil north of the Claypit are red with a carpet of Cone Sundews (Drosera androsaceae). These have lost the ability to use nitrogen taken up by their roots and rely entirely on insect soup for this nutrient.
Shaggy Sundew Drosera Scorpioides prefers moist bare gravelly areas in Foxes lair, and the beautiful orange-flowered Pimpernel Sundew Drosera glandigulera prefers more fertile soil from fresh rock.
Take care when you walk in the bush again.