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SPECIES:  Drosera rotundifolia
Roundleaf sundew in Mendocino County, CA. Image used with permission of Charles Webber, © California Academy of Sciences.



SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Matthews, Robin F. 1994. Drosera rotundifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 24 April 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: round-leaved sundew to: roundleaf sundew. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION : DROROT SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE : DRRO COMMON NAMES : roundleaf sundew round-leaved sundew TAXONOMY : The scientific name of roundleaf sundew is Drosera rotundifolia L. (Droseraceae) [14,19,20,21,44]. The following varieties are recognized: Drosera rotundifolia var. rotundifolia D. rotundifolia var. gracilis Laestad [22,27] D. rotundifolia var. comosa Fern. [14,27,47] Roundleaf sundew hybridizes with English sundew (D. anglica) where the two grow together [22,41]. The resultant hybrid, D. x obovata Mert. & Koch, is sterile [14,20,27,45]. Roundleaf sundew also hybridizes with narrow-leaved sundew (D. linearis) to form the infertile D. x anglica Hudson, which is morphologically indistinguishable from the fertile D. anglica [45,59]. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : See OTHER STATUS OTHER STATUS : Roundleaf sundew is protected in New York [31].


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Roundleaf sundew is distributed from Greenland and Newfoundland west to Alaska. It occurs south along the Pacific coast to California and inland as far as western Montana and western Colorado. In the East, roundleaf sundew is found from Nova Scotia south to Georgia, Florida, and Alabama and west to the Mississippi River, Iowa, and Minnesota [14,19,21,44,45]. Roundleaf sundew is known from at least two locations in west-central Montana [32]. In Colorado, it is known from one bog in Gunnison County, a site that has been given special protection [60]. There is also one record of roundleaf sundew from a bog in Bottineau County, North Dakota [64]. Populations of roundleaf sundew also occur in Europe and Asia [21,22,44].
Distribution of roundleaf sundew. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, April 24] [65].

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES22  Western white pine
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES27  Redwood
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES37  Mountain meadows

     AL  AK  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA  ID  IL
     IN  IA  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MT  NV
     NH  NJ  NY  NC  OH  OR  PA  RI  SC  TN
     VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  AB  BC  MB  NB  NF
     NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains

   K094  Conifer bog



Roundleaf sundew is an indicator of bogs in the Northeast [24].

Tree species such as lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), jack pine (P.
banksiana), Sitka spruce (Picea sitkensis), black spruce (P. mariana),
white spruce (P. glauca), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), mountain
hemlock (T. mertensiana), eastern hemlock (T. canadensis), western
redcedar (Thuja plicata), northern white-cedar (T. occidentalis),
Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), Atlantic white-cedar (C.
thyoides), tamarack (Larix laricina), balsam fir (Abies balsamea),
balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), trembling aspen (P. tremuloides),
birch (Betula spp.), and red maple (Acer rubrum) occur as scattered
individuals or are present in forests surrounding the bogs or swamps
that roundleaf sundew inhabit [3,10,23,25,48].

Other species typically associated with roundleaf sundew include
leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), bog Labrador tea (Ledum
groenlandicum), poison sumac (Rhus vernix), bog kalmia (Kalmia
polifolia), bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), bog cranberry (Vaccinium
oxycoccos), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), willows (Salix spp.), common
buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea),
mountain bladderwort (Urticularia intermedia), slender bladderwort (U.
subulata), St. Johnswort (Hypericum spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), sheathed
cottonsedge (Eriophorum vaginatum), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis
canadensis), sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum spp.), Schreber's moss (Pleurozium
schreberi), and other mosses (Aulacomnium palustre and Polytrichum
juniperinum) [16,18,38,40,48,61].


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Roundleaf sundew is commonly eaten by moose on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in late May and June when in preflowering and early flowering stages [34]. The wetland habitats that roundleaf sundew grows in are important breeding and staging areas for migratory waterfowl and are rich in a variety of wildlife [2]. Roundleaf sundew is present in wetland communities of western Massachusetts and New York that are dominated by tall shrubs other than alders (Alnus spp.). These communities, especially the Cicero Swamp in western Massachusetts, form the primary habitat for the endangered eastern massasauga rattlesnake [33]. Roundleaf sundew may be an important food source for bog-dwelling ants. Ants are opportunistic predators of insects trapped in the leaves of roundleaf sundew, scavenging up to two-thirds of the prey caught by the plant [57]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Sundews (Drosera spp.) generally survive better than other carnivorous plants and can naturally invade disturbed bog sites where other vegetation has been removed, such as after roadside ditching or burning [45]. Roundleaf sundew naturally regenerated in an Ontario bog 24 years following the complete removal of the vegetation and peat up to 6.6 feet (2 m) deep as a result of peat mining [25]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Leaves of roundleaf sundew can curdle milk and were used in Sweden to make cheese. Fresh leaves have also been used to treat warts. Roundleaf sundew has been used as a remedy for respiratory ailments. The plant contains an antibiotic effective against Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pneumococcus bacteria [43]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Clearing and drainage of peat bogs or swamps for peat mining, millpond construction, access to timber, and agricultural purposes have resulted in the decline of roundleaf sundew habitat by altering site conditions in many areas [1,8,10,35,45]. Drainage also has an indirect negative effect by diminishing the numbers of roundleaf sundew prey that have aquatic larval stages [8]. Insectivorous plants, including roundleaf sundew, may add to the nutrient pool on the nutrient-deficient sites where they most often grow [40]. Roundleaf sundew itself apparently does not respond positively to fertilization. The application of nitrogen, phosphorous, or a combination of the two to nutrient-poor sites negatively affected the growth of a natural roundleaf sundew population on the Jefferson National Forest, Virginia. Plants were not as large, did not have as many mature leaves, and did not produce as many flowers as plants on sites without added nutrients. The negative effect may have been the product of ion toxicity [50]. Microhabitat segregation among different sundews (Drosera spp.) at the same site may influence the types of prey captured. Roundleaf sundew and spatulate-leaved sundew (D. intermedia) in southern Germany occupied different microhabitats and caught different kinds of insects, even though they occurred together in the same bog [55]. Lists of insects that have been captured as prey in the leaves of roundleaf sundew are available [8,26,55]. Grazing apparently does not eradicate roundleaf sundew; it has been found on wet grasslands of the British Isles that have been grazed by both cattle and sheep [8].


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Roundleaf sundew is an insectivorous, short-lived perennial forb arising from a basal rosette of leaves. The upper surface of the leaf blades are covered with reddish, glandular hairs tipped with a sticky, glutinous secretion that traps insects. The inflorescence is a one-sided raceme with 2 to 15 flowers on a scape that is 2 to 10 inches (5-25 cm) long. There may be one to seven inflorescences per rosette. The fruits are capsules with numerous small seeds [8,20,21,41,44]. The root system of roundleaf sundew is usually shallow (less than 2.4 inches [6 cm]) [8]. It consists of a taproot - functional for less than a year - which is replaced by mostly horizontal adventitious roots with a few root hairs [8,37,50]. Roundleaf sundew compensates for the low available nutrients in its habitat by catching and digesting insects [8,45,49,54]. Insects are caught with the sticky glandular leaf hairs, and the leaf then folds around the prey. The hairs secrete proteolytic enzymes which digest the insect and enable the plant to absorb nutrients through its leaves [37,45,52]. Insect capture is generally believed to enhance growth and reproduction of roundleaf sundew [8,24,29,46,56]. It is significantly correlated (p<0.01) with total leaf number, number of new leaves formed, and total leaf area [46]. However, Stewart [50] determined that roundleaf sundew did not benefit from insect capture in field experiments in the Jefferson National Forest, Virginia. The benefits of insectivory may be site-dependent; roundleaf sundew may benefit most from insect capture on the most nutrient-poor sites. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Roundleaf sundew reproduces vegetatively or by seed [8,29,37,52]. Vegetative reproduction takes place when leaf buds form plantlets, or when axillary buds below the rosette form a secondary rosette. As the stem decays, the two separate [8,37]. Adventitious plants develop in the autumn. They occur occasionally in the field but are often present in greenhouse experiments, possible due to a high level of humidity [52]. When flowers are open during the day, they are cross-pollinated by wind or insects. Self-pollination may take place as flowers close in the evening [45,50]. The fruits often persist unopened, and seeds are released when the fruit rots [8]. The fusiform seeds are 0.06 to 0.07 inch (1.5-1.8 mm) long and 0.008 inch (0.2 mm) wide and have an inflated testa. Air trapped in the testa makes the seed buoyant and capable of floating for days on water surfaces. Seeds may be carried some distance with snowmelt and flooding [52]. Plants flower in their first summer and every year thereafter [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Roundleaf sundew is most often found in bogs, but also grows in swamps, rotting logs, mossy crevices in rocks, or damp sand along stream, lake, or pond margins [31,37,39,52,59]. It is generally associated with sphagnum mosses and grows on floating sphagnum mats or sphagnum hummocks [8,29,32,37,50]. It may also grow on peat soils of other bryophyte or of graminoid origins [1]. In the northern part of its range the sphagnum bogs in which roundleaf sundew grows are generally found surrounding glacial lakes. In the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Alabama, the bogs are most often at confluences of springheads, around seeps, or along streams rather than lake margins. The same is true for sphagnum bogs of the southeastern coastal plain, but there roundleaf sundew may also grow in grass-sedge bogs. In the Pacific Northwest, sphagnum bogs are typically found along streams and occasionally develop around high elevation seeps and shallow lake margins in the northern Rocky Mountains [3,45]. Roundleaf sundew is usually confined to sites with a high water table or high precipitation and humidity [8]. It requires continually moist or wet situations [20]. Roundleaf sundew grows in organic acid soils that are low in available nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous, and calcium [3,24,49,54]. According to Crowder [8], the normal range of the water table on sites where roundleaf sundew grows is from 1 inch (2 cm) above to 16 inches (40 cm) below the soil surface. Flooding can be tolerated for several weeks, but dry periods can only be tolerated for a very short time. Lloyd [37] reported that it is not found on limestone soils; high calcium concentrations may be toxic to the plant. Roundleaf sundew grows in sedge meadow communities of the Huntingdon Marsh in Quebec on peat underlain by clay at 24 inches (60 cm) or more. The soil surface is slightly above or up to 10 inches (25 cm) below the water table [2]. Roundleaf sundew has been reported as growing on sites ranging from neutral pH (7.3) to very acidic (3.2) [18,38]. Acidic soils with low nutrient concentrations (nitrogen, phosphorous, or calcium) seem to be the most common substrate [2,11,38,49,61]. In British Columbia, roundleaf sundew is an indicator of wet to very wet, nitrogen-poor soils in boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. It is associated with sphagnum moss in nonforested, semiterrestrial communities [28]. An atypical site was found on Ile Perrot, Quebec, where roundleaf sundew was growing on moderately dry, abandoned pastureland that originally had been a swamp. The soil was well-drained loamy sand with an average pH of 6.1. The site was "basically infertile" with extremely low calcium and nitrogen concentrations [52]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Roundleaf sundew is very shade intolerant [28,50]. Since the plant is so small, even graminoids and small shrubs may limit light availability [50]. Shaded plants may not develop a rosette but instead have a more spindly habit [8]. The encroachment of poison sumac, speckled alder (Alder rugosa), and purple chokeberry (Pyrus floribunda) into a kettle bog at Brown's Lake Bog Preserve in northeastern Ohio has resulted in the "shading out" of characteristic bog species including roundleaf sundew, pitcher-plant, and sphagnum mosses [12,63]. One bog in Jefferson National Forest, Virginia, is kept in an early secondary successional stage by periodic removal of ferns (Osmunda spp.), alders, and other shade-producing plants. This treatment has resulted in a proliferation of sundews (Drosera spp.) [50]. The adaptations of roundleaf sundew to nutrient-poor conditions allows it to be very competitive and persistent in acid wetlands [45]. It has invaded disturbed sites in bogs after peat mining, ditching, and burning [8,37,45,52]. In subarctic Manitoba, roundleaf sundew was present in undisturbed bogs and in a bog that had been completely cleared of vegetation 7 years earlier [48]. However, if succession leads to the invasion of bogs by woody vegetation, roundleaf sundew is easily shaded out as site conditions are altered [45]. In rich fens roundleaf sundew is probably at a competitive disadvantage because of higher species diversity [24,50]. Bog succession in general is not well understood [3,24]. Bogs can be formed by the filling-in of lakes or ponds, or the paludification process where forests are converted to wetlands [24]. Many bogs are apparently stable and very long-lived, whereas others are ephemeral unless frequently disturbed [3]. On Isle Royale in Lake Superior, roundleaf sundew was present in mid-seral stages of succession from rocky shore to forest and was also seral in bog succession, occurring mostly between aquatic stages and bog forest [6,7]. The same general pattern describes the role of roundleaf sundew throughout peat bogs in eastern North America [9]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Roundleaf sundew generally flowers from June to September throughout its range [19,30,39,45]. Flowers open one per day, starting from the bottom of the inflorescence [50]. Seed dispersal begins in July and most seeds fall before winter. However, some may be found in dried capsules in the spring [8]. Roundleaf sundew forms a hibernaculum (tightly rolled leaf primordia) in the fall. The remaining leaves, and frequently the roots, die back after the hibernaculum develops. The hibernaculum opens in April or May of the following year [45,55,62].


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Frequent fire is necessary to maintain some of the bog habitats in which roundleaf sundew grows. In these locations fire suppression has led to the invasion of woody species from the surrounding forest. Frequent surface fires remove the young woody plants advancing from bog edges. Where woody vegetation is dense and has lowered the water table, fires can be severe and may alter the subsequent composition of the vegetation [45]. On moist savannahs of the southeastern coastal plain, fire suppression has resulted in the exclusion of shade-intolerant species including roundleaf sundew. Mesic savannahs succeed to flatwoods; wet savannahs are quickly invaded by pocosin shrubs in the absence of fire. When severe fires reduce peat depth or remove peat, grass-dominated wetlands may replace the prefire vegetation [3]. Fire is important in lowland peat communities in Alaska. Sphagnum development is slow after fire and burned peatlands are often invaded by sheathed cottonsedge. This results in a shift from wet sphagnum bogs to tussock communities. Roundleaf sundew, which inhabits the sphagnum bogs, is able to survive on sphagnum hummocks between tussocks of sheathed cottonsedge [5]. Many bogs may escape fire because of high water tables, or occur in cold, wet climates with very long fire intervals. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Roundleaf sundew is most likely killed even by fast moving, low-severity fires. However, fires in bogs are generally patchy and roundleaf sundew probably survives in unburned microsites. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Roundleaf sundew colonizes recently burned peat surfaces [8,45]. At the Acadian Forest Experimental Station in New Brunswick, roundleaf sundew invaded a bog containing short, scattered tamarack after seasonal burning. It was absent or measured at less than one stem per square meter prior to burning, but seeds colonized the area in August and germinated to produce small seedlings. However, the seedlings failed to establish successfully and subsequently died [15]. Roundleaf sundew frequency was relatively stable in the five summers following a late March, 1974, wildfire in a Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) woodland in Scotland; frequency ranged from 35 to 55 percent [53]. The plant may have occurred in poorly-drained areas that were not completely burned. Roundleaf sundew was present in a wetland community dominated by tall shrubs in the Cicero Swamp Wildlife Management Area in New York that had burned 94 years earlier. Up to 3.3 feet (1 m) of peat had been burned on some sites, indicating a severe fire. Roundleaf sundew only had a frequency of 1 percent and cover of 0.1 percent [33], possibly due to the cover of tall shrubs. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Periodic autumn fires can prolong the life of some bogs by inhibiting the invasion of woody plant species [45]. Roundleaf sundew, along with cattails (Typha spp.), horsetails (Equisetum spp.), and common buckbean, are present in sedge meadow communities that are maintained by fire in the Huntingdon Marsh, Quebec. Fire is used to prevent the invasion of alders and willows [2]. In central Alberta, the burning of bog forests may revert the vegetation to that of Labrador tea (Ledum spp.)-dominated moors, of which roundleaf sundew is a component [36].


SPECIES: Drosera rotundifolia
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