Drosera spathulata or the spoon-leaved sundew is a perennial commonly found in the sunny wetlands of Southeast Asia and Oceania (Adamec, 2002; May, n.d.). These habitats are wet, acidic and have poor availability of mineral nutrients (Adamec, 2002). This sundew can range in colour from green to red and is known as a weed because it consistently shoots up solitary flower stalks that are loaded with seeds (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993; Ichiishi et al., 1999; May, n.d.).
To overcome the persistent challenges faced with this habitat, the spoon-leaved sundew has evolved as a carnivore. This allows the plant to take in and absorb nutrients directly from small animal resources by way of carnivorous leaves (Adamec, 2002; Lloyd, 1942).
The trapping of insects performed by the spoon-leaved sundew is an active mechanism (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993). When an insect lands on the plant, the leaves and glandular hairs bend inward at the point where the insect is situated, causing maximum exposure of hairs in contact with the insect (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993).
Each glandular hair has a drop of mucilage located at its extremities (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993). The mucilage present is a sweet, non-toxic, thick substance that shines in the sun (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993; Spoon-leaf Sundew, n.d.). Insects are either suffocated by the thick substance or die from exhaustion trying to escape (Spoon-leaf Sundew, n.d.). The sundew’s leaves cannot absorb the nutrients directly, so once the insect is dead the sundew’s leaves and hairs direct the carcass towards the stem that has digestive glands present (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993; Spoon-leaf Sundew, n.d.). Once the carcass is located near the stem, the insect is digested and absorbed by proteolytic enzymes and ribonucleases that are secreted from the plant (Finnie and Van Staden, 1993). This whole process can last a few minutes to a few hours, and can take up to 1-2 weeks for the tentacle to regain their initial shape ((Finnie and Van Staden, 1993).
Extracts from the Drosera family have been traditionally used for various medicinal purposes (Šamaj et al. 1999). The extracts are especially effective against respiratory diseases (Šamaj et al. 1999). Specifically, Drosera spathulata is able to exhibit analgesic effects from its regenerated plant extracts (Golabi et al., 2010). The therapeutic effects exhibited result from the secondary metabolites that are synthesized and accumulated in various Drosera species (Šamaj et al. 1999).
Adamec, L. (2002). Leaf absorption of mineral nutrients in carnivorous plants stimulates root nutrient uptake. New Phytologist, 155(1), 89-100.
Finnie, J. F., & Van Staden, J. (1993). Drosera spp.(Sundew): Micropropagation and the in vitro production of plumbagin. In Medicinal and Aromatic Plants V(pp. 164-177). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Golabi, S., Hasanpour, E. M., Azhdari, H., Rohampour, K., Rajabian, T., & Ekhteraei, T. S. Paper: anti-nociceptive activity of regenerated drosera spatulata aqueous extract by rat formalin test.
Ichiishi, S., Nagamitsu, T., Kondo, Y., Iwashina, T., Kondo, K., & Tagashira, N. (1999). Effects of macro-components and sucrose in the medium on in vitro red-color pigmentation in Dionaea muscipula Ellis and Drosera spathulata Labill. Plant Biotechnology, 16(3), 235-238.
Lloyd, F. E., 1942 The Carnivorous Plants. The Ronald Press Co-. N. Y.
May, A. (n.d.). Drosera spatulata, The Spoon-Leaf Sundew. Retrieved February 4, 2015, from http://www.growsundews.com/sundews/Drosera_spatulata.html
Šamaj, J., Blehová, A., Repčák, M., Ovečka, M., & Bobák, M. (1999). Drosera species (sundew): in vitro culture and the production of plumbagin and other secondary metabolites. In Medicinal and Aromatic Plants XI (pp. 105-135). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
Spoon-leaf Sundew. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2015, from http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/media/spoon-leaf-sundew/?ar_a=1