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Sundew

Have you ever seen one of these? It might look like something from an alien planet, but it’s actually a tiny plant found in Scottish peat bogs called a SUNDEW. Peat bogs are a tricky place for plants to live as the soil is really low in nutrients. Sundews have a clever way of getting round this problem… read on to find out more!

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This is Judith Weir and she is a composer- she even has a special job writing music for the Queen!

 

A few years ago she composed a piece for violin and cello all about a Sundew. Listen to her music to find out about this amazing plant.

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Sundew leaves are covered in tiny tendrils topped with glistening droplets that look like dew. The ‘dew’ is actually a sticky substance that attracts insects to the plant.

In Judith’s music quick repeated fluttering note patterns imitate the sound of buzzing insects. Smooth patterns of upward sliding notes describe the gooey Sundew droplets. Can you hear a fly landing on the Sundew? Listen out for the two patterns joining together…

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The sticky droplets act like glue- if an unlucky insect lands on a Sundew it will become stuck!

 

In Judith’s music the cello plays long held notes that slowly rise, depicting the sticky Sundew. The violin plays fluttering note patterns to describe a fly as it becomes stuck in the goo.

When a Sundew catches an insect it curls its tendrils round to stop the insect from escaping- it’s a fight for survival between fly and plant!

 

Watch the video above and listen to the music- can you hear the violin and cello copying each other?

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Eventually Sundews wrap their leaves round to completely enclose the insect they’ve captured…and then they begin digesting it! It’s an ingenious solution that allows Sundews to get the nutrients they need to survive, but which are missing from the peaty soil in their boggy home. Sundews are extremely efficient killers- scientific studies show that fewer than 1 in 5 of the captured insects manages to escape!

Alice Rickards violin & Sonia Cromarty cello (c) Louise Mather

Listen to the final section of Judith’s music. 

The cello plays long notes again to describe the sticky curled up Sundew. The violin fly music becomes higher and higher as the piece draws to a close. 

What do you think happens at the end? Does the fly in Judith’s music get eaten, or do you think it manages to escape?

Sundew Judith Weir
00:00 / 03:17

You can listen to the whole piece of music here

Get Creative

Sundews are really unusual looking plants. We'd love you to draw or paint a sundew picture and send it to us so that we can include it in our 'One Plant, One Piece of Paper' film.