Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Dwarf Sundew - Drosera brevifolia   Pursh
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Section 6 » Order Nepenthales » Family Droseraceae
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AuthorPursh
DistributionOccurs nearly throughout the southern 60% of the Coastal Plain, north to Hyde, Pitt, and Johnston counties. Also occurs (or mostly "occurred") in the eastern and southern Piedmont, west to Orange, Rowan, and Cleveland counties.

This is a Southern species, though is not as strictly tied to the Coastal Plain as are most of the "carnivorous" species. It ranges from eastern VA and extreme southeastern KS, south to southern FL and eastern TX. However, it is very sparsely distributed outside the Coastal Plains.

AbundanceUncommon to locally fairly common, but easily overlooked, in the Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) belt from Craven and Carteret counties west to the Sandhills region. In the northern part of its range in the Coastal Plain, it is rare and presumed to be strongly declining, as it certainly is in the Piedmont portion of the range. It is not scarce enough to be tracked by the NC NHP as a Watch List species; thus, there is little information showing how well or poorly it is fairing in these latter two regions, though few sites remain in the Piedmont today for any carnivorous plant species.
HabitatIt is found most often in savannas, but as it is a tiny species and can easily be smothered by heavy vegetative cover, it does best in scrapes, ditches, and other wetter or more open spots within savannas, including powerline clearings that mimic a savanna. Farther inland and northward it is found mostly in seeps, scrapes, and other tiny and damp openings, including muddy places.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is the smallest of the state's six sundew (Drosera) species. The 10 or more leaves are in a rosette flat against the ground, and the "wheel" of leaves is barely 1-inch across. The leaves are greenish but red along the margins, very sticky/glandular (to capture insects and spiders by contact), and spatulate to wedge-shaped. Thus, when looking at the rosette from directly above, the leaves are so wedge-shaped that they nearly block the ground between leaves. The flowering scape (naked stem) is only about 2 inches tall, but is glandular and pubescent, as opposed to smooth or just pubescent in the very similar D. capillaris. The flowers (on a spike) are typically white, to rarely light pink, about 1/2-inch across. Also, D. capillaris more often has pink flowers, but many plants or populations have white flowers; if pink, that will rule out D. brevifolia, but if white, then the stem and leaf characters need to be checked. You often need to be on hands and knees to observe D. brevifolia, or at least to identify, this species; it is easy to call it as the more common D. capillaris if you are not careful in your observation.
Taxonomic CommentsFor much or most of the last century it was named as Drosera leucantha. Weakley (2018) states that "D. leucantha may be the correct name for this taxon …"

Other Common Name(s)Shortleaf Sundew
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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