Drosera anglica (English Sundew)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Droseraceae (Sundew)
Life cycle:perennial
  • State Special Concern
Habitat:sun; wet; fens, peat bogs, marly shores, floating mats
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:3 to 10 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] A one-sided raceme of 1 to 12 flowers at the top of a slender naked stem to 10 inches tall. Flowers are ¼ inch across, with 5 round white petals, 5 yellow-tipped stamens, single pistil with 3 styles.

[photo of minutely gland-dotted sepals] The 5 sepals are about ¾ the length of the petals and sparsely and minutely gland-dotted, especially near the base. The flowering stem is formed tightly coiled and unrolls as flowers mature and ascend.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf] Leaves are basal, bright green, narrowly spatula-shaped to elliptic, mostly widest above the middle with a gradual taper to the base, 1/8 to 1/3 inch wide (3 to 8 mm) by ½ to 1 1/3 inches long (15 to 35 mm), the upper surface covered with red, sticky tipped glandular hairs that trap insects. Leaf stalks are green or red, 1 to 3 inches long, with an appendage (stipule) at the base that is 5 mm long, connected to the stalk for its entire length, and shredded along the edge of the tip half into hair-like or scale-like segments. Leaves are mostly erect to ascending, though some may be more spreading.

[photo of leaf back and glands (denser than average coverage)] Leaf undersides and stalks are often minutely gland-dotted, sometimes sparsely hairy. Flowering stems (scapes) are erect from the base, rise well above the leaves, smooth to sparsely gland-dotted.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a narrowly oblong-elliptic capsule up to ¼ inch long and longer than the sepals.

[photo of seeds] Seeds are dark brown to blackish, elliptic with an abrupt taper to a short beak at the tip, and wrapped in a hardened, spindle-shaped shell 1 to 1.5 mm long, brownish-black and covered with a network of small ridges.


There are 4 species of Drosera in Minnesota, plus 1 record of a hybrid (Drosera x obovata), all of which have more or less the same flower and grow in similar habitats. While the gland-dotted leaf stalks and scapes may be a unique trait of Drosera anglica, the shape of the leaf blade is typically what distinguishes one species from another: Round-leaf Sundew (D. rotundifolia) has round blades, Spoon-leaf Sundew (D. intermedia) has mostly smaller blades, and Linear-leaf Sundew (D. linearis) are much longer and proportionately more narrow. Of these three, D. intermedia is most similar to D. anglica and the overlap in leaf sizes can make them difficult to distinguish sometimes, especially with early growth. Other distinctions are: D. anglica scapes are always erect from the base, leaves tend to grow mostly erect, stipules are connected to leaf stalk for their entire length, and leaves are basal, rarely if ever on an elongated stem, where D. intermedia leaves are more spreading, the stipules only connected for about 1 mm of their total length, leaves are frequently alternate on a stem that is up to 3 inches long, and the scape tends to grow in an “L” shape, laterally from the base some then curving upward and erect from that point.

According to the DNR, D. anglica was unknown in Minnesota until 1978, when sections of the northern peatlands were botanized for the first time. Initially listed as a state Threatened species, it was downgraded to Special Concern in 1996 after its distribution and habitat requirements were better understood; it is currently listed as Threatened in Wisconsin. It is circumboreal throughout the northern hemisphere as well as higher elevations of Hawaii. In Minnesota it often grows with D. rotundifolia and D. linearis, and a sterile hybrid may occur where D. rotundifolia is present. A carnivorous plant and another childhood botany icon—children are fascinated by the notion that a plant can “eat” animals. However, few are stimulated to see it for themselves as they grow into adulthood, having become bored of such things. That's a shame, because these things are way cool.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Mahnomen and Lake counties. Other photos courtesy Otto Gockman.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Janet I Anderson - Lake County
on: 2019-07-15 10:22:28

My daughter just posted pictures she took from her Kayak (she works out of Ely but in Lake County). She identified the drosera as Drosera Intermedia. I had to look up drosera, which is how I ended up on this page.

Posted by: Carmen - Milaca
on: 2021-07-25 10:03:33

We have horses and there are a lot of flies. I want to get some fly traps as they would love it! So would the horses. I am wondering what type of fly trap would be good or be able to survive

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-25 10:08:18

Carmen, all of the sundews live in wetlands, primarily in moist peaty soil, and would not survive in a horse pasture. You would probably also need thousands of them at minimum to make a dent in your fly population.

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