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Drosophyllum (/ˌdrɒsˈfɪləm/ DROSS-oh-FIL-əm, rarely /drəˈsɒfɪləm/ drə-SOF-il-əm) is a genus of carnivorous plants containing the single species Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Portuguese sundew or dewy pine). In appearance, it is similar to the related genus Drosera (the sundews), and to the much more distantly related Byblis (the rainbow plants).

Drosophyllum lusitanicum a.JPG
Drosophyllum lusitanicum in the wild
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Drosophyllaceae
Chrtek, Slaviková & Studnička[1]
Genus: Drosophyllum
D. lusitanicum
Binomial name
Drosophyllum lusitanicum
(L.) Link
Drosophyllum map.png
Drosophyllum distribution
  • Drosera lusitanica
  • Drosophyllum pedatum
    Dutailly nom.nud.
  • Rorella lusitanica
    (L.) Raf.
  • Spergulus droseroides
    Brot. ex Steud. nom.illeg.
An illustration of the mucilaginous glands by Darwin

Drosophyllum lusitanicum is native to the western Mediterranean region (Portugal, Spain and Morocco), and is one of the few carnivorous plants to grow in dry soil. The 20- to 40-cm (8- to 16-in) glandular leaves, which uncoil from a central rosette, lack the power of movement common to most sundews, but have the unusual characteristic of coiling 'outward' when immature (outward circinate vernation).[2] The plant has a distinct sweet aroma, which attracts the insects upon which it preys. When insects land on the leaves, they find themselves stuck to the mucilage secreted by the stalked glands on the leaves. The more the insects struggle, the more ensnared they become, ultimately dying of suffocation or exhaustion. The plant then secretes enzymes which dissolve the insects and release the nutrients, which are then absorbed by the plant. The plant uses these nutrients to supplement the nutrient-poor soil in which it grows.

Drosophyllum lusitanicum bears bright-yellow flowers, 4 cm (1.6 in) in diameter, borne in groups of 3–15 between February and May. The translucent seedpods bear 3–10 opaque black, pear-shaped seeds, 2.5 mm (0.098 in) in diameter. Seed germination may be aided by scarification.

The genus had always been assumed to be closely allied to Drosera, and was previously placed in the Droseraceae. Recent molecular and biochemical studies, however, place it in the monotypic Drosophyllaceae, as recommended by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, and allied with the Dioncophyllaceae (Triphyophyllum) and Ancistrocladaceae.


The APG system (1998) and APG II system (2003) assign Drosophyllaceae to the order Caryophyllales in the clade core eudicots. D. lusitanicum had previously always been included in the family Droseraceae, as it catches insects with a method reminiscent of that used by many plants in that family.

Recent molecular and biochemical evidence (see the AP-Website) suggests the carnivorous taxa in the order Caryophyllales (the families Droseraceae, Drosophyllaceae, Nepenthaceae, and the species Triphyophyllum peltatum) all belong to the same clade, which does not consist only of carnivorous plants, but also includes some noncarnivorous plants, such as those in the family Ancistrocladaceae.


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  2. ^ Hewitt-Cooper, N. 2012. Drosophyllum lusitanicum L.. Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 41(4): 143–145.

External linksEdit