Pink sundew (Drosera capillaris)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Pink sundew is an insectivorous wildflower that grows in abundance in wet pinelands, savannas and bogs, where it can form a glistening red carpet. It is often found growing alongside other insectivores such as pitcherplants (Sarracenia spp.), bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) and butterworts (Pinguicula spp.). The plant typically blooms in spring but may bloom in summer and fall. Its semi-showy flowers open in the morning in bright sunny conditions and close by late afternoon. They occasionally attract small insects but are believed to be self-pollinated.
Basal rosettes form a red carpet-like groundcover. Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Close-up of leaves and tentacle-like glands. Photo by Mary Keim
Pink sundew’s delicate flowers are pale-pink with five petals and a superior greenish-yellow ovary. They develop in numbers of two to 20 atop a glabrous leafless scape. Leaves are lime-green to crimson red and spatulate with relatively long petioles. They are prostrate and born in basal rosettes. Petioles are glabrous, but leaf blades are covered in tentacle-like glands that secrete a sticky, acidic substance in which insects become trapped. The leaves then fold in on themselves, ensnaring the insects until digestion is complete. The fruit is an inconspicuous capsule bearing several ellipsoid to oblong seeds.
The genus name Drosera is from the Greek drosos, meaning “dew” or “dewdrops.” It and the common name “sundew” refer to the leaves’ dewy-like secretions. Five species of Drosera are native to Florida. D. capillaris is the most common.
Family: Droseraceae (Sundew family)
Native range: Throughout peninsular Florida
To see where natural populations of Pink sundew have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Lifespan: Annual to short-lived perennial
Hardiness: Zones 8A–10B
Soil: Moist to wet, acidic sandy or peaty soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: ½–1” tall and 1–4” wide; flower stalk is 3–4” tall
Garden tips: Pink sundew may be incorporated into naturalistic landscapes or restoration projects. It requires constant moisture and cannot tolerate drought conditions.
Plants are occasionally available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealfForida.org to find a nursery near you.