Look at these magical insect-eating sundew plants up close

Joni Niemelä
© Joni Niemelä

We often think of plants as relatively harmless things: green, passive, sometimes a nuisance in the garden and sometimes great to eat or use as medicine. Yet nature's diversity includes the captivating beauty of carnivorous plants, such as those from the family of plants known as Drosera, or more commonly as "sundews."

Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä

Taking a close-up look at these lovely yet predatory plants is Finnish photographer Joni Niemelä, who captured these vibrant images of these unique plants, which are named for their dewy appearance (the Greek word "drosos" means "dew"). He explains about the two series titled "Drosera" and "Otherworldly Blues":

Sundews have always fascinated me, and I have been photographing these alien-like plants for several years now. My first first photo series ‘Drosera’ was mostly bright and vibrant, so I wanted to have some contrast to that in my second series of Sundews. I think the colors and the mood of ‘Otherworldly Blues’ reflect aptly the true nature of these carnivorous plants.

Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä
Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä
Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä

Niemelä's photos are colourful and atmospheric, showing every little hair and every little stalk in magical detail. However, these are deadly appendages: each sports gland that carries a drop of sweet-tasting liquid or gluey "mucilage" that attracts and traps insects, which die of exhaustion or asphyxiation, within 15 minutes. The Drosera plant's secretions then dissolve and digest the insect as a nutrient soup through the surfaces of its leaves.

Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä
Joni Niemelä© Joni Niemelä

Interestingly, there are at least 194 species of Drosera, all different sizes and shapes. Each continent except Antarctica has its own native species, eating insects to compensate for its growth in poor soils.

Joni Niemelä © Joni Niemelä

Capturing the tiniest, glistening details up close, putting us in the perspective of an entranced insect being lured to its death, Niemelä's photos give us a rare insight into the lives of these plants. You can find more images over on Joni Niemelä's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and prints are also on sale at Joni Niemelä.

Tags: Artists | Arts | Nature | Nature Blows My Mind

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