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Round-leaved Sundew

Drosera rotundifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Droseraceae (Sundew)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, heathland, marshes, moorland, mountains, wetland.

White, 5 petals
The flowers of the Round-leaved Sundew are small and delicate, with white or pink petals. These blooms emerge on slender stems, rising gracefully above the basal rosette of rounded leaves. The flowering season typically occurs in late spring to early summer, adding a touch of elegance to the plant's carnivorous nature.
The fruit of the Round-leaved Sundew is a small, rounded capsule. This capsule contains seeds and develops after successful pollination of the plant's delicate flowers. As the capsule matures, it eventually splits open, releasing the seeds to disperse and contribute to the plant's reproductive cycle.
A carnivorous plant found in peat bogs. The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette and each leaf is round and sticky. The rosettes are yellowish-green, untoothed and are covered in numerous sticky red hairs. The Sundew plant uses these sticky red hairs to trap insects and feed on them.
The Round-leaved Sundew, native to the UK, is not renowned for having a distinct scent. Its primary means of attracting prey is through the glistening droplets on its leaves, which are visually appealing to insects. The plant relies on its carnivorous nature, rather than aromatic cues, to capture and digest small invertebrates.
Other Names:
Common Sundew, Roundleaf Sundew.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Drosera rotundifolia, also known as round-leaved sundew, is a small, carnivorous perennial plant that is native to bogs, fens, and other wetland habitats in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is known for its small, round leaves that are covered in sensitive, red, tentacle-like structures called "hairs" which are used to capture insects for food. The leaves will curl around the insect and secrete enzymes to digest it. The plant produces small, white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. It is often used as an ornamental plant, particularly in bog gardens or terrariums. It is also used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.


Round-leaved sundew, or Drosera rotundifolia, is a carnivorous plant native to many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, and northern Africa. This fascinating plant is known for its ability to capture and digest insects using its leaves, which are covered in small, sticky hairs that trap prey. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the characteristics, habitat, and behavior of the Round-leaved sundew.

Characteristics of Round-leaved Sundew

Round-leaved sundew is a small herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows to be about 5-10 centimeters tall. Its leaves are arranged in a basal rosette, and each leaf is about 1-2 centimeters in diameter. The leaves are circular in shape and have a distinctive red color, which makes them stand out in their natural habitat.

One of the most notable features of the Round-leaved sundew is the tiny, hair-like structures that cover its leaves. These structures, called tentacles or trichomes, secrete a sticky mucilage that traps and holds insects that land on the leaf. The leaf then curls around the trapped insect, helping to ensure that it doesn't escape.

Habitat of Round-leaved Sundew

Round-leaved sundew can be found growing in a variety of wetland habitats, including bogs, fens, and marshes. It prefers acidic soils and is often found growing alongside other carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants and bladderworts.

In North America, Round-leaved sundew is found in the northern regions, particularly in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. In Europe, it can be found in northern and central regions, including the UK, Scandinavia, and Russia. It is also found in northern Asia and northern Africa.

Behavior of Round-leaved Sundew

Round-leaved sundew is a carnivorous plant, which means that it obtains some of its nutrients from insects and other small organisms. It captures these prey items using the sticky hairs on its leaves, which act like tiny flypaper traps. The trapped insect is then digested by the plant, providing it with a source of nitrogen and other nutrients that it can't get from the soil.

The way that Round-leaved sundew captures prey is quite unique. When an insect lands on the leaf, the sticky mucilage on the trichomes holds it in place. The leaf then begins to curl around the insect, aided by the movement of other nearby trichomes. This process is called "trap closure." Once the leaf is fully curled around the insect, the plant secretes digestive enzymes that break down the insect's tissues and release its nutrients.

In addition to its carnivorous behavior, Round-leaved sundew is also known for its medicinal properties. Extracts from the plant have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory infections, skin ailments, and digestive issues. However, it's important to note that the plant should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

In conclusion, Round-leaved sundew is a fascinating plant that is well adapted to its wetland habitat. Its ability to capture and digest insects using its sticky leaves is truly remarkable, and it serves as a reminder of the amazing diversity of life on our planet.

More Information about Round-leaved Sundew

While Round-leaved sundew may seem like a small and insignificant plant, it plays an important role in its ecosystem. By capturing insects and other small organisms, it helps to control the population of these species and prevent them from becoming too abundant. In addition, the nutrients that the plant obtains from its prey help it to survive in the nutrient-poor soils of wetland habitats.

Like other carnivorous plants, Round-leaved sundew has evolved a variety of adaptations that allow it to capture and digest prey. For example, its leaves are covered in tiny, sensitive hairs that detect the movement of nearby insects. When an insect lands on the leaf, the plant is able to respond quickly by curling its leaves around the insect and trapping it.

One of the challenges that Round-leaved sundew faces is the loss of its wetland habitat due to human activities such as land development and agricultural practices. As wetlands are drained or filled in, the plant's habitat becomes increasingly fragmented, making it harder for populations to persist. In addition, pollution and other environmental stressors can also harm Round-leaved sundew and other wetland species.

To protect Round-leaved sundew and other wetland species, it's important to support conservation efforts that aim to protect and restore wetland habitats. This can include initiatives such as wetland restoration projects, which aim to recreate or enhance wetland habitats that have been degraded or destroyed. In addition, efforts to reduce pollution and other environmental stressors can help to ensure that Round-leaved sundew and other species are able to thrive in their natural habitats.

Round-leaved sundew is a fascinating and important plant that plays an important role in its wetland ecosystem. Its ability to capture and digest insects using its sticky leaves is truly remarkable, and it serves as a reminder of the incredible diversity of life on our planet. By working to protect and restore wetland habitats, we can help to ensure that Round-leaved sundew and other wetland species are able to thrive for generations to come.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal significance, Round-leaved sundew also has cultural importance. For centuries, the plant has been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples around the world. In some cultures, it is believed that the plant has mystical or spiritual properties, and it is used in various spiritual and religious ceremonies.

Round-leaved sundew is also a popular plant among carnivorous plant enthusiasts, who often grow it as part of their collections. It is relatively easy to grow and care for, making it a good choice for beginners. However, it is important to note that the plant does require a specific set of conditions to thrive, including high humidity and acidic soil.

If you are interested in growing Round-leaved sundew, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the plant requires a wetland-like environment, so it is important to keep the soil moist and provide it with plenty of water. You can use distilled or rainwater to avoid adding minerals to the soil, which can harm the plant. Additionally, Round-leaved sundew requires bright, indirect sunlight, so it's best to place it near a window or under a grow light.

Round-leaved sundew is a remarkable and fascinating plant that is well adapted to its wetland habitat. Its ability to capture and digest insects using its sticky leaves is truly amazing, and it serves as a reminder of the incredible diversity of life on our planet. Whether you are interested in studying the plant's ecological or medicinal properties, or simply want to grow it as part of your collection, there is much to appreciate and learn from this unique and beautiful plant.

Round-leaved sundew has been the subject of scientific study for many years, and researchers continue to uncover new insights into the plant's biology and ecology. One recent study, for example, found that Round-leaved sundew is able to sense the vibrations of insect footsteps on its leaves, allowing it to more effectively capture prey. Other studies have focused on the chemical and genetic basis of the plant's sticky trap, which is composed of a complex mixture of enzymes and other molecules.

In addition to its scientific significance, Round-leaved sundew has also inspired a number of works of art and literature. The plant's striking appearance and carnivorous habits have made it a popular subject for artists, writers, and poets. For example, the plant is referenced in the work of Charles Darwin, who was fascinated by its ability to capture insects. More recently, the plant has been featured in popular culture, including in films, video games, and other media.

Despite its cultural and scientific significance, Round-leaved sundew remains threatened by habitat loss and other environmental stressors. To ensure the long-term survival of this remarkable plant, it is important to continue to support conservation efforts that aim to protect and restore wetland habitats. By working together, we can help to ensure that Round-leaved sundew and other wetland species continue to thrive for generations to come.

30 Round-leaved Sundew Facts

  1. Scientific Name: The Round-leaved Sundew is scientifically known as Drosera rotundifolia.

  2. Carnivorous Plant: It is a carnivorous plant that obtains nutrients by trapping and digesting insects and other small invertebrates.

  3. Habitat: Round-leaved Sundew is commonly found in acidic, nutrient-poor environments such as bogs, moors, and wetlands.

  4. Distribution: It has a circumboreal distribution, meaning it can be found in the Northern Hemisphere in regions like Europe, North America, and Asia.

  5. Rosette Form: The plant typically forms a basal rosette of rounded leaves, giving it the characteristic appearance.

  6. Leaf Characteristics: Each leaf has glandular hairs with a sticky mucilage at the tip, which serves to capture and digest prey.

  7. Attractive Droplets: The mucilage on the leaves forms droplets that glisten in the sunlight, attracting insects.

  8. Insect Capture: When an insect comes into contact with the sticky droplets, the plant's leaves slowly curl around the prey, securing it for digestion.

  9. Tiny Size: The Round-leaved Sundew is a relatively small plant, with leaves usually ranging from 1 to 3 centimeters in diameter.

  10. Flower Appearance: It produces small white or pink flowers on slender stems that rise above the rosette.

  11. Blooming Season: The flowering season typically occurs in late spring to early summer.

  12. Adaptations to Nutrient-Poor Soils: Its carnivorous nature is an adaptation to survive in nutrient-poor soils where it can supplement its nutrient intake.

  13. Reproduction: Round-leaved Sundew reproduces through both seeds and vegetative means, such as through the division of the rootstock.

  14. Role in Ecosystem: As a carnivorous plant, it plays a role in controlling insect populations in its habitat.

  15. Conservation Status: In some regions, Round-leaved Sundew faces threats due to habitat loss, making its conservation status a concern in certain areas.

  16. Symbiotic Relationships: It forms symbiotic relationships with specific fungi to enhance nutrient absorption.

  17. Winter Dormancy: During the winter months, the Round-leaved Sundew enters a period of dormancy.

  18. Adhesive Properties: The mucilage on its leaves has adhesive properties that help immobilize and capture insects.

  19. Photosynthesis: While capable of photosynthesis, the Round-leaved Sundew relies on carnivory to supplement its nutrient intake.

  20. Traditional Medicine: In some cultures, extracts from the Round-leaved Sundew have been historically used in traditional medicine for various purposes.

  21. Herbivory Deterrent: The sticky nature of the mucilage serves as a deterrent to herbivores, protecting the plant from being consumed by larger animals.

  22. Genus Characteristics: Belonging to the genus Drosera, the Round-leaved Sundew is part of a diverse group of carnivorous plants.

  23. Growing Season: It actively grows during the warmer months when insect activity is higher.

  24. Leaf Lifespan: Individual leaves of the Round-leaved Sundew have a relatively short lifespan, with new leaves continually emerging.

  25. Adaptive Radiation: The Drosera genus, including the Round-leaved Sundew, has undergone adaptive radiation, resulting in diverse species with varied characteristics.

  26. Seed Dispersal: Seeds are dispersed by wind, aiding in the plant's colonization of new areas.

  27. Cultural Significance: In folklore, some cultures associate the Round-leaved Sundew with various beliefs and stories.

  28. Temperature Tolerance: It exhibits a tolerance for cool temperatures, allowing it to thrive in colder climates.

  29. Microscopic Trichomes: The glandular hairs on the leaves, called trichomes, are microscopic structures that play a crucial role in capturing prey.

  30. Ecological Importance: Round-leaved Sundew contributes to the ecological balance of its habitat by participating in nutrient cycling through its carnivorous behavior.


Round-leaved Sundew filmed in Kentmere, Cumbria on the 1st June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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