Sundew, Drosera

Sundews are highly peculiar-looking plants that can be found all over the world, except in the polar regions. Sundews are carnivorous plants, getting some of their nourishment by preying on insects. Three varieties of sundew grow in Finland.


Sundews are still used by the pharmaceuticals industry as an ingredient in cough medicines. The chemically active compounds in sundew relax the bronchial tubes, causing them to dilate, and also reduce the production of mucus and relieve irritation of the mucous tissues. Most of the active ingredients are concentrated in the flowers; there are less in the leaves, and least of all in the stems. In production, all parts of the plant are used.

Something to try

Sundews are mainly used in the pharmaceuticals industry. However, they are also good to eat, for example in desserts or as salad garnishes. All parts of the plant are non-toxic, and have a mild flavour. Because sundews definitely catch the eye, they are bound to be a good ice-breaker and topic of conversation at the dinner table.

Gathering the plants

Sundews are most likely to be found amongst the dryish white moss (sphagnum moss) areas of mires and pine swamps. Permission from the landowners is always required for gathering sundews.

Other interesting facts

The liquid secreted by sundews can be used to sour milk. Sundews were once used in Sweden as part of making a soured whole milk. A bowl was rubbed with sundew leaves before pouring freshly-milked milk into it.

Elias Lönnrot, the compiler of the Finnish national folk epic The Kalevala, elsewhere gave the following advice: “Straining milk through sundew leaves, or rubbing the sides of the milk pail with sundew, produces thickened milk that keeps for a long time without going bad.” Sundew sours milk due to the interaction between the lactic bacteria in the milk with the enzymes contained in the sticky liquid secreted by sundew leaves.

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