Although common in the wetter north and west of the UK, sundews are uncommon across southern England. However, in the New Forest they are widespread and popular in almost any wet area. There are three species: the one you see most often is the round-leaved sundew.
Round-leaved and oblong-leaved sundews grow in wet and damp places that have sparse vegetation. They cannot tolerate competition and if grasses invade they may die out. The sides of tracks and pools where the ponies’ hooves continually create small bare patches of wet mud suit sundews very well. The rarest species is the great sundew – this grows in the very wettest areas in the middle of the bogs.
As long as the wet habitats do not dry out or become shaded by trees and there are areas of wet bare soil, sundews will persist.
To find sundews, look open in almost any of the wet, muddy-edged pools or track sides. The leaves are visible at any time of year, and the small spikes of delicate white flowers are up from late June to August.
Sundews are amazing in that they eat insects! They produce blobs of sticky ‘glue’ all over the leaves; insects become trapped in the glue, the plant curls the leaf edges over and releases digestive enzymes that consume the insects, passing nutrients into the plant.