The spoon-leaf sundew is an insectivore. Unable to obtain sufficient nutrients from the poor-quality soil in which it takes root, the plant traps insects, like this hapless fly.
The "dew" of the sundew is actually mucilage. Mucilage is a thick, sticky substance secreted by some plants. The runny, sticky "juice" of the aloe vera plant, for instance, is mucilage.
Mucilage collects on the sundew's tentacles. Tentacles are the thin stalks on the sundew's narrow leaves.
Small insects step into the sweet-tasting mucilage and become stuck. Mucilage is not dangerously toxic—insects are not poisoned. Instead, the animals are either suffocated by the thick substance or die from exhaustion trying to escape.
The sundew's leaves cannot absorb nutrients directly. So, after it has killed its victim, the plant slowly rolls the tiny carcass up to its stem. (That's what's happening in this photograph.) There, the stem releases digestive fluids. Nutrients from the insect are absorbed and the leaf unfurls its deadly, mucilaginous tentacles once again.
For Further Exploration
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry absorb Verb
to soak up.
water droplets condensed from the atmosphere onto cool surfaces near the ground.
Encyclopedic Entry: dew digestive fluid Noun
natural secretions that help break down food as part of the digestion process.
extreme weakness and fatigue.
organism that mostly eats insects.
organ growing from the stem of a plant.
sticky, gel-like secretion of some plants.
substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.
Encyclopedic Entry: nutrient root Noun
part of a plant that secures it in the soil, obtains water and nutrients, and often stores food made by leaves.
to discharge a substance.
top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.
main stalk of a plant.
enough or adequate.
to be unable to breathe.
carnivorous plant with sticky hairs that trap insects.