Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Horrifying Tuesday : Sundew

Just because it's Horrifying Tuesday doesn't mean we can't look at one of the most out-worldly plants in the world. Allow me to introduce you to the Sundew, a spectacular plant with wondrous pink spines covered with the crisp morning dew. The name alone sparks memories of warm summer mornings with red-orange skies covering the earth as the morning dew settles down on the grass and leaves below the celestial bodies. But hold on a moment, did I mention that the Sundew is classified as one of the few carnivorous plants in the world?

This disturbing clown picture is somehow related to this post.

The Sundew, or the Drosera is one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants in the world along with 194 of its own species. These plants greatly vary in size and form and can be found growing natively in almost every continent in the world, except Antarctica. If it was found in Antarctica, we could probably expect their entire ecosystem to be destroyed in a matter of weeks. Those polar bears can't hide forever.

These plants commonly grow in soil with poor mineral nutrition that would cause other plants to starve and die in a matter of weeks. Thankfully, this plant doesn't have to rely on the dirt's mineral content, they can simply lure, trap, and digest insects using special liquid substances on their leaf surface. It's as simple as baking a pie.


The plant produces two different  type of glands that do two different tasks; one of them secretes a sweet mucilage that attracts, traps and digests insects and the lather to absorb the delicious remains. If you didn't hear/understand me the first time, allow me to repeat it., "so dude, this plant makes this fluid that is like sweet and stuff, and like it is so hardcore that it traps insects like nobody's business and goes on to digest them like sugar cubes in warm water. after that, the plant is like 'woah, that insect is like dead and stuff. man, i should drink it or something' and it makes another gland that eats up the liquidfied remains just for the kicks and giggles. crazy stuff right?"


How it would work in real-life, is as simple as catching a fly on a fly trap. Let's pretend that a young mosquito named Jane is flying around looking for some subsistence. Suddenly, she discover a magical plant that secretes pure sugar and bolts directly at it. Upon touch, Jane becomes entrapped by the sticky mucilage and cries for the sweet relief of death. Thankfully, Jane is likely to die from exhaustion or from the mucilage that slowly envelops her and clogs her respiratory system in about fifteen minutes.

As Jane slowly decides which of her friends will receive her stock investments and life savings, she will slowly be "decomposed" by enzymes that will dissolve her and free the nutrients from her silly insect cells. Once Jane is liquefied, the plant will slowly absorb Jane, bringing a everlasting unity. How's that for a bedtime story?

To put the icing on the cake, I would like to mention that the all the species of the Sundew has the exclusive ability to move their tentacles on contact of a prey. What it tries to do is, grab the insect and bring it into contact with as many "magic-glands" as possible. If we take another closer look, we'll come to realize that the crisp morning dew on the Sundew is actually the mixture of enzymes and mucilage that the plant secreted. It's basically a strangely shaped tongue that drools everywhere.

Before you decide that such horrific creature should be wiped off the face of the earth, the Sundew has several medically active compounds that have served as medical herbs as early as the 12 century. Since then, it's been commonly used in cough remedies to help with dry coughs from bronchitis, whooping cough, and even asthma. Luckily, people that use the Sundew primarily use the roots, flowers, and "fruits" of the plant. There's no need to fear a half-slain plant pulsating on your plate to help with your bad cough.

Pictured: 2015