ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Sweet and Deadly Trap of the Portuguese Sundew, Drosophyllum lusitanicum

Updated on September 7, 2013
Portuguese sundew, Drosophyllum lusitanicum. Note the numerous insects caught on its leaves.
Portuguese sundew, Drosophyllum lusitanicum. Note the numerous insects caught on its leaves.
Portuguese sundew blooming.
Portuguese sundew blooming.
Detail on the Portuguese sundew flower.
Detail on the Portuguese sundew flower.
Detail on Portuguese sundew leaf and its mucilaginous glands.
Detail on Portuguese sundew leaf and its mucilaginous glands.
Moth caught by the mucilaginous glands on the Poruguese sundew leaves.
Moth caught by the mucilaginous glands on the Poruguese sundew leaves.

Portuguese sundew or dewy pine, Drosophyllum lusitanicum, is shrub-like carnivorous plant endemic of Portugal, southern Spain and northern Morocco. It grows in pine forests, in dry, well drained soils under very arid weather. It is the only known carnivorous plant that grows in such adverse conditions. As most of you probably know, the vast majority of carnivorous plants grows in wet, water-logged, nutrient-deficient soils. This difference is one of the aspects that make the Portuguese sundew unique. Other than being similar to the more common sundews, of the genera Drosera, that resemblance ends there. Unlike Drosera plants, the leaves of the Portuguese sundew lack the ability of movement typical of sundews, in which their leaves coil themselves as to better get hold of the insects caught on their sticky stalked mucilaginous glands. Alternatively, the strategy of the Portuguese sundew is not less efficient although being considered more primitive. In fact the Portuguese sundew relies on the number of insects that it can prey. Its stem is thick and lignified, typical of a perennial plant, and tends to creep around the ground as it becomes longer. Around ten or more slender, needle-like, triangular shaped leaves distribute around an apical rosette. Usually the leaves reach about 30 cm long while the whole plant can stand up 1.5 m high, especially when it is blooming. As a whole the plant resembles and octopus with its body buried in the ground and its tentacles waving upwards. Apart from being immobile the Portuguese sundew leaves coil outward when they grow, unlike what happens with sundews, of the genus Drosera. The Portuguese sundew leaves are covered by mucilaginous glands that continuously produce a sweet fragrant exudate especially designed to attract insects, some say it smells like honey. And in fact, when observing these plants what impresses the most is the numerous and different insects that this plant can prey. When insects land on its leaves, they find themselves stuck to the mucilage secreted by the stalked glands on the leaves. The more the insects struggle, the more ensnared they become, ultimately dying of suffocation or exhaustion, depending whether or not their tracheae are covered by the sticky mucilage. Now, the whole plant is designed so perfectly that when insects die, and after some time, they eventually fall down drawn by their own weight. They land, mostly, on the base of the stem from where leaves originate and where there are specialized glands. These glands are the digestive gland that secret the enzymes necessary to break the insects’ exoskeleton and digest them all together. This digestive process is quite fast and usually it is complete within a day. Like all carnivorous plants this how the Portuguese sundew obtains the nutrients to supplement the nutrient-poor soil where it grows in. This is why the root system of the Portuguese sundew serves only for support and to absorb water, especially during hot and dry summers that are typical of the Mediterranean climate. Also and to better survive through dry summers the Portuguese sundew leaves accumulate and absorb dew water, in the evening and nighttime mostly. The irony is that the Portuguese sundew like most flowering plants depends on the same insects that it preys in order to survive and reproduce. Hence, not all insects attracted by the Portuguese sundew end up as food. From late winter to early summer, the Portuguese sundew produces big, fragrant and yellow hermaphrodite flowers located well above its deadly traps on its leaves. This way, the insects that serve as pollinators do not end up sticking themselves on its leaves. Due to its pleasant smell and ability to attract insects so easily the Portuguese sundew is popular in some local folklore. Some believe it has medicinal properties and use it to make remedies to treat body ailments. Others believe its holds the key to love and to hold someone you love the same way as it never lets go the insects it attracts.

Home of Portuguese Sundew


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)