Sundews (Drosera species)

Drosera auriculata
Drosera auriculata – ‘Auriculata’ alludes to having ears and each leaf does have a little pair of ears!

Common names: Sundews

Taxonomic name: Drosera species

Family: Droseraceae

Uses: Food, dye, coughs, chest tonic

Area of origin: Global

Warnings: Tea made from dried aerial parts can be extremely strong

Drosera macrantha
Drosera macrantha – no ears on this one!

Description and uses:

Sundews are carnivorous plants, so live in areas that are low in nutrients. They like the shade and some dampness, but can be found in sand in the full Sun at Sandy Creek Conservation Park near us.

There are two major types from our point of view. There are flat Sundews with a rosette of sticky leaves. Then there are the climbing and trailing Sundews.

Our most common forms are Scented Sundew (Drosera whittakeri), which is one of the ground hugging types and Climbing Sundew, which, as the name suggests, climbs.

Most Sundews have white flowers and, for some reason, I always feel glad when I see them. Some do have pink flowers such as (the name’s a give away) Scarlet Sundew.

Some species of Drosera have edible tubers and were eaten by Indigenous folks in other areas but I’ve not heard mention of them being used for food locally.

Sundews (Drosera species) are interesting herbally. They act on the muscles of the chest, so they can be used for coughs that cause the chest muscles to ache from frequent use and for coughs whose source doesn’t seem to come from the respiratory tract. I know that sounds odd, but once you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what I mean. Whooping cough is the classic symptom that calls for Sundew.

Both yield a strong, bitter, burning brew from dried leaves and a tincture that matches, so caution here. Make sure what you’re drinking is watered down to a comfortable level before you take it.

The plants are, externally, cooling and calming, but internally, heating and relaxing. I like to look to the Doctorine of Signatures for their use. I see lots of little hairs, tendrils and the like that reach out from the plant like antennae. Each of these has a glob of sticky juice on the end. To me, this suggests suitability for people who are sensitive to outside influences, having lots of ‘psychic antennae’. There are other plants like this such as Fringed Violet which is used to help shield users from outside influences.

I see the difference though to be the sticky glob. It helps things stick. That suggests a suitability for people who get caught up in lots of outside ideas, mostly other peoples. The blobs of mucus help ideas to stick, to become firm in ones mind so that the person can think more clearly and act more certainly.

Drosera whittakeri
A close knit group of D. whittakeri (Scented Sundews)

The white flowers suggest clarity that is found once the external influences have been settles.

Climbing types are more suitable for that type of sensitive person who suffers from external influences but likes to influence others into their way of thinking. The ground hugging types seem to suggest a more stable kind of person. I’m not sure of the erect variety yet.

That’s all research in progress, however, and you may want to take it with a grain of salt and just use Sundews for achy, spasmodic chest problems.

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