Drosera Capensis

Also known as Cape Sundew, the Drosera capensis is categorized as a flypaper type of carnivorous plant.

Drosera capensis
Drosera capensis







Trap Type:
Flypaper

Taxonomy:
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Order: Nepenthales
Family: Droseraceae
Genus: Drosera
Species: Capensis



Genus: Drosera
Drosera is the genus name of the plants more commonly referred to as “sundews.” Sundews are carnivorous plants, categorized by their “tentacles”[1] that are capped with nectar glands which excrete sticky fluids.
Close up of a D. capensis tentacle
Close up of a D. capensis tentacle
These sticky fluids both trap insects and act as a digestive aid as they are comprised of digestive enzymes.


This fluid also helped to give these plants their nickname, as the drops of digestive enzyme look like drops of dew on the plant. Once an insect or other form of prey has been captured by the plant, the tentacles wrap around and suffocate the prey while excreting more fluid and digesting the insect. Sundews move their leaves in a similar manner as the Venus Flytrap plants. Upon stimulation, turgor pressure and water intake changes, allowing the plant to manipulate its leaves. Sundew plants can often survive in difficult terrain because they rely heavily on their insect diet to obtain important nutrients, rather than relying on a complex root system to obtain these nutrients from the soil.


Examples of species in the Drosera​ genus:
Plants of the Drosea genus are easily identifiable by their color and dew-covered tentacles. They often have yellow leaves with red tentacles, and they are dicots producing white or pink flowers with 5 petals. In North America alone there are 8 different species of Drosera. These include D. anglica, D. brevifolia, D. capillaris, D. filiformis, D. intermedia, D. linearis, and D. rotundifolia.
D. anglica
D. anglica
D. brevifolia
D. brevifolia
D. capillaris
D. capillaris
D. filiformis
D. filiformis
D. intermedia
D. intermedia
D. linearis
D. linearis
D. rotundifolia
D. rotundifolia

Geographic distribution of the Drosera genus:
Drosera plants are found all over the world, it is estimated that there are between 86 and 196 different species of Drosera.[2] These sundew plants vary in shape size and color depending on their location and species. The Drosera genus is further subdivided into categories dependent upon location and type. These categories include Tropical, Fork-leaved, Temperate, Tuberous, Pygmy, Annual, South African, South American, Petiolaris, and Queensland.[3]


This map shows the worldwide distribution of the Drosera genus. The Drosera Capensis comes from the Cape region of South Africa as indicated by the circle.
This map shows the worldwide distribution of the Drosera genus. The Drosera Capensis comes from the Cape region of South Africa as indicated by the circle.

Anatomy of the Drosera genus:
Visually, the most striking component of the Drosera genus is their leaves, which are covered with glistening tentacles and are often brightly colored. While the leaves contain tentacles, also referred to as “trichomes”[4] , they maintain a basic plan of base, petiole and blade. In order for Drosera plants to produce dew, they must have sufficient sunlight in order to produce polysaccharides, which are a main component of the digestive enzyme. Other less prevalent components include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.[5] These digestive enzymes are called “chitinases.” The trichomes and leaves of the Drosera plant react to exposure or contact with certain minerals, not to movement or disturbance.[6] By reacting only to minerals and not physical disturbance, plants conserve energy and only move when they will be able capture prey rather than wasting energy on disturbances by water, wind, or debris.




Sundew plants can reproduce either by seeds or asexually. The Drosera genus can produce flowers on certain flowering stems located in different places on different species. Each flower they produce lasts one day. This flower releases small seeds when they close and die at the end of their day of life.[7] Sundew plants are dicots, producing flowers with 5 petals that vary in color.


Drosera capensis

external image capensis_broad_leaf.jpg
The Drosera capensis is originally from the Cape region of South Africa, and is commonly referred to as the Cape Sundew. Like all Drosera plants, D. capensis is a dicot plant that has tentacles on its leaves that produce mucus to trap insects and digest them. D. capensis, consists of yellow leaves covered in red trichomes, and produces pink flowers with five petals.

D. capensis Flower
D. capensis Flower
These flowers, like all flowers of the Drosera genus last one day and upon their death release large amounts of small seeds.[8] While D. capensis originated in South Africa, it has spread internationally today because it is easy to grow and survives well in tough conditions.[9] Through all of this breeding, 5 forms of D. capensis can be found today. These include the “red,” “albino,” “bains kloof,” “wide leaf,” and “giant” D. capensis. These plants are differentiated by their size and color, but are not fundamentally different from each other.


"Red" D. capensis
"Red" D. capensis
"Albino" D. capensis
"Albino" D. capensis
"Bains kloof" D. Capensis
"Bains kloof" D. Capensis
"Wide Leaf" D. capensis
"Wide Leaf" D. capensis
"Giant" D. capensis
"Giant" D. capensis

Species Specific Human Interaction:
Drosera capensis plants can be extremely useful to humans if used correctly. Due to the fact that they consume insects, they can be used to control insect infection of plants. Specifically, they can be used to exterminate fungus gnats and fruit flies if grown near these plants. Additionally, D. capensis can be used medicinally as a hemopathic drug (a form of non-Western medicine). It can also be used to treat three bacterial infections: Streptococcus, the condition responsible for afflictions like strep-throat; Staphylococcus, responsible for skin afflictions such as staff infection;and Pneumococcos, an affliction associated with pnemonia and meningitis.[10]


Did you know?
Charles Darwin himself experimented with Drosera plants. By applying certain chemicals to the Drosera plant without moving them, he was able to determine that it is, in fact, the chemical exposure not physical disturbance that causes the plant's tentacles to react.

The mucus of the Drosera plant has been used in medicine since the 12th Century. Most recently, it has been used experimentally in organ or bone replacement surgeries to help reduce the risk of replacement rejection.

Drosera plants get their nickname "sundew" from ancient Greeks who first made the connection between the appearance of the mucus on the plants and dew. Droseros is the Greek word for dew.

Carl Linnaeus himself gave the Drosera family its official scientific name.



Works Referenced:

Franco, Veronica. "Drosera." University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.unc.edu/~franco/writings/drosera.html>.

May, Aaron. "Drosera capensis varieties - The Cape Sundew." The Sundew Grow Guides. N.p.,Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.growsundews.com/sundews/Drosera_capensis.html>.

Rice, Barry . "The Carnivorous Plant FAQ: North American Drosera." Barry's Web site.Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.sarracenia.com/faq/faq5265.html>.

"Sundew." Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.bio.georgiasouthern.edu/Bio-home/leege/BOO/ghseontheweb/carnivorous/Sundew_Justin.htm>.

“Kingdom Plantae: Drosera Capensis.” Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://wikioflife.wikispaces.com/Kingdom+Plantae>
  1. ^
    May, Aaron. "Drosera capensis varieties - The Cape Sundew." The Sundew Grow Guides. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.growsundews.com/sundews/Drosera_capensis.html>
  2. ^
    May
  3. ^ May
  4. ^
    Franco, Veronica. "Drosera." University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.unc.edu/~franco/writings/drosera.html>.
  5. ^ May
  6. ^ May
  7. ^
    “Kingdom Plantae: Drosera Capensis.” Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://wikioflife.wikispaces.com/Kingdom+Plantae>
  8. ^
    "Kingdom Plantae: Drosera Capensis"
  9. ^ May
  10. ^
    "Sundew." Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <http://www.bio.georgiasouthern.edu/Bio-home/leege/BOO/ghseontheweb/carnivorous/Sundew_Justin.htm>.