Habitat: Grows throughout Europe on wet heaths, moors and sphagnum bogs, especially in Wales. Wet and moist places in poor peaty soils, occasionally forming a floating fringe on small ponds.
The Sundew has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, having been popular for its fortifying and aphrodisiac effects. It relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract, easing breathing and relieving wheezing and so is of great value in the treatment of various chest complaints. The plant has become quite rare and so it should not be harvested from the wild. The flowering plant is antibacterial, antibiotic, antispasmodic, antitussive, demulcent, expectorant and hypoglycaemic. The plant is used with advantage in the treatment of whooping cough, exerting a peculiar action on the respiratory organs. It is also used in the treatment of incipient phthisis, chronic bronchitis and asthma. Externally, it has been used to treat corns, warts and bunions. Use with caution. Internal use of this herb causes a harmless colouring of the urine. An extract of the plant contains plumbagin, which is antibiotic against a wide range of pathogens. Because of their protein digesting enzymes, the leaf juice has been used in the treatment of warts and corns. The entire fresh plant, harvested when it is starting to flower, is used to make a homeopathic remedy. It is used mainly in the treatment of coughs and is specific for whooping cough.
Description of Sundew:
Drosera rotundifolia, Sundew is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Self.The plant is self-fertile. Sundew Plant is carnivorous.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
Needs full sun. It prefers moist or wet soil.
Cultivation of Sundew:
Prefers a sandy peaty soil, succeeding in poor soils and bogs. Requires a sunny position. An insectivorous plant, it can survive in nitrogen poor soils because it gets the nutrients it needs from insects. The upper surfaces of leaves are covered with hairs that secrete a sweet sticky substance.This attracts insects, which become smeared with it and unable to escape – the plant then exudes a digestive fluid that enables it to absorb most of the insect into its system.
Propagation of Sundew:
Seed – best sown thinly as soon as it is ripe into pots of a free-draining soil with some charcoal added and with a layer of finely chopped sphagnum moss on top. Surface sow and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 2 months at 20°c. Grow the plants on in the pots for their first growing season, making sure that the soil does not become dry. Divide the plants in the autumn, grow them on in the greenhouse for the winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring.
Collection: The whole of the plant is gathered during the flowering period in July or August. The plant is harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use.
Culinary uses of Sundew:
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.
The juice of the plant is used to curdle plant milks. You heat the milk and the leaves together in order to make the milk curdle.
Actions: Anti-spasmodic, demulcent, expectorant.
Part Used: Entire plant.
Indications: Sundew may be used with great benefit in bronchitis and whooping cough. The presence of plumbagin helps to explain this as it has been shown to be active against Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria. Sundew will also help with infections in other parts of the respiratory tract. Its relaxing effect upon involuntary muscles helps in the relief of asthma. In addition to the pulmonary conditions it has a long history in the treatment of stomach ulcers.
Ellingwood considered it specific for “dry, irritable, persistent cough; also cough of a hoarse, resonant, explosive, or spasmodic character, without secretion.” In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: cough of measles, whooping-cough,chronic bronchitis, phthitis pulmonalis, asthmatic coughs.
Combinations: In the treatment of asthma it may be used with Grindelia and Pill-bearing Spurge.
Preparations & Dosage of Sundew:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.
Other uses of Sundew:
Substances in the plant are used to curb the growth of bacteria.
Esoteric uses of Sundew:
None known but if you use this plant for any purpose please let us know!
- Naphthaquinones; plumbagin, its methly-ether, and methylnaphthazarin