Saturday, 20 June 2009

A sticky end

I don't recall ever seeing sundew growing on top of a rock like this one I saw recently on the Isle of Mull. Usually they seem to lurk at ground level amongst the vegetation. Perhaps its a reflection of the wet Hebridean climate that it can thrive here, quietly scooping up the midges and the gnats. Nature's flypaper.
Insectivorous plants are intriguing and the operation of this method of countering nutrient deficiency has exercised minds immeasurably superior to mine. Charles Darwin's for example. He studied the sundew in great depth and wrote about it in a 355 page book Insectivorous Plants in 1875. The whole text is online and it's well worth a skim if only to marvel at the methodical observation.
I'm happy enough to just stare and enjoy the combination of beauty and efficiency that is the sundew. The glistening sticky blobs entice and entrap the prey while other parts of the leaf produce substances that digest the fly. A few days later and all that's left is the husk of the doomed insect and the trap is reset. (You can count the remnants if you click on the top picture.)

1 comment:

  1. It's quite an easy plant to overlook, isn't it? There's a fine colony of sundews in a small mire on the hillside near Tunstalll reservoir in Weardale, but you really need to be looking for them to find them.