Linear-leaved sundew (Drosera linearis)

Linear-leaved sundew
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Linear-leaved sundew fact file

Linear-leaved sundew description

GenusDrosera (1)

The linear-leaved sundew (Drosera linearis) is a small insectivorous plant. It is distinguished from other sundews by its long, narrow leaves which have nearly parallel margins, hence this species’ common name (3). The dark green leaves are covered in miniscule bumps and tiny, reddish, tentacle-like hairs, and are around two to five centimetres long (2). Older leaves sometimes develop a reddish colour (4)

The small, white flowers of the linear-leaved sundew are borne in a clusters, known as a raceme, at the end of an erect stem (5). Each flower has four to eight equal-sized, roughly egg-shaped petals (2). The fruit capsules have a bumpy outer surface and contain many long, black, oblong to egg-shaped seeds (2).

Also known as
slender-leaved sundew.
Height: 6 - 13 cm (2)

Linear-leaved sundew biology

A perennial species, the linear-leaved sundew dies back in late autumn, with the plant surviving as underground buds. Re-growth occurs in May, with the production of the leaves followed by flowering in mid- to late June. The flowers only open fully in bright sunlight, and may remain open for about five hours (4) (7)

The linear-laved sundew is most likely pollinated by bees, but if not pollinated during the day, its flowers will self-pollinate at night when they are closed. The seeds mature by late August to early September and are dispersed on the feet of birds or by water (4) (7).


Linear-leaved sundew range

The linear-laved sundew is one of only two Drosera species endemic to North America (6). Its range is centred around the Great Lakes region, with scattered populations in western Canada and the Maritime Provinces (3) (5).


Linear-leaved sundew habitat

Growing only in alkaline conditions (2), the linear-leaved sundew is restricted to lime-rich fens, where it is usually found in a centimetre or so of water (7).


Linear-leaved sundew status

The linear-leaved sundew has not yet been classified by the IUCN. 


Linear-leaved sundew threats

The most significant threat to the linear-leaved sundew is the development of peatlands. This species is extremely sensitive to changes in its habitat and will not persist if water levels are altered. Consequently, artificially enhanced drainage of peatlands associated with the commercial extraction of peat and mining has led to the loss of some populations (3).


Linear-leaved sundew conservation

The liner-leaved sundew has not been the target of any known conservation measures.


Find out more

Find out more about carnivorous plants:

  • Slack, A. (2000) Carnivorous Plants. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Wet peat, usually with alkaline water. The alkalinity arises due to ground water seeping through calcareous rocks (rocks containing free calcium carbonate).
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
To transfer pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
An inflorescence (the flower-bearing reproductive shoot of a plant) in which the individual flowers all have distinct stalks and are attached to a central stem. The flowers at the base open first, and new flowers are produced at the tip as the shoot grows.


  1. ITIS (April, 2011)
  2. Kershaw, L., Gould, J., Johnson, D. and Lancaster, J. (2001) Rare Vascular Plants of Alberta. The University of Alberta Press, Alberta.
  3. Coffin, B. and Pfannumuller, L. (1988) Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna. University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota.
  4. Schnell, D.E. (1982) Notes on Drosera linearis Goldie in northeastern Lower Michigan. Castanea, 47: 313-328.
  5. Slack, A. (2000) Carnivorous Plants. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  6. (July, 2011)
  7. Schnell, D.E. (2002) Carnivorous plants of the United States and Canada. Timber Press, Oregon.

Image credit

Linear-leaved sundew  
Linear-leaved sundew

© Barry Rice -

Dr. Barry Rice


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