are comfortably relaxed in the knowledge that many animals are vegetarians;
it may be a little more difficult to accept the fact that, widely scattered
over the world, there are number of plants that are carnivorous, or
at least insectivorous. We cannot help feeling that this is rather shocking
behaviour on their part, and the fact that various pitcher-plants inhabiting
a great part of the world from North America to Northern Australia have
a highly coloured and uncorseted appearance confirms us in a secret
conviction that they are no better than they should be. If, however,
we were to pick a Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) flower which is like
a small white saxifrage, or a butterwort, which resembles a violet,
and we are to examine these flowers apart from their cunning and ingenious
insect-trapping leaves, we should think that they were ‘nice’
This small, carnivorous (insect-eating)
plant is found widely throughout Europe and in Britain, where it grows
in the poor, acidic soils of bogs, damp uplands, moorlands and woodlands.
It is a small perennial herb growing up to 8 inches tall and needs to
trap insects for extra nutrients as the soil in which it grows is so
poor. It is remarkable for its leaves, which are covered with long red
hairs, each with a small, fluid-containing gland at the top. When the
sun shines on the leaves it resembles dew, hence the name “Sundew”.
The genus name “Drosera” comes from a Greek word meaning
“dew”. An insect landing on the leaf is trapped because
this curls over inwards, and the sticky fluid (Sap) secreted by the
hairs holds it fast. The secretion contains proteolytic enzymes that
digest the body and the nutrients absorbed by the plant! The small white
flowers of Sundew are fully opened in early morning but close up when
the sun shines strongly.
As early as the 13th century, alchemists noted positive results from
the use of Sundew’s sap in the treatment of consumption, or tuberculosis.
In 16th century John Gerand, England observed in his “Herbal”
“Physicians have thought this herb to be rare and a single remedy
for consumption of the lungs”. Today herbalists recommend Sundew
sap for soothing coughs due to irritation and prescribe it for antispasmodic
properties and it would also help in stopping cough, as in case of whooping
It was noticed that sheep which inadvertently
cropped Sundew, developed a paroxysmal type of cough .It was investigated
and proved as a remedy for this (whooping cough-pertusis) illness in
Homoeopathy, and the whole plant is used to prepare the medicine. Any
condition in which there is a violent, dry, persistent barking cough
of a spasmodic nature as in whooping cough, benefits from the use of
Sundew, which has a particular action on the upper respiratory tract.
Accompanying symptoms are gagging, sickness, sweating and nosebleeding.
It is also used to treat bronchitis, asthma, corns and warts growing
painful and pain in the bones. The symptoms are worse from being too
warm in bed, after midnight, while crying, lying down, laughing, singing,
and talking. Symptoms improve out in the fresh air, with walking or
gentle exercise, sitting probed up in bed, with pressure applied to
the painful part and quite surroundings.
rotundifolia was introduced in our Materia Medica by Dr. S. Hahnemann.He,
in the Fragmenta, (1805) wrote 40 symptoms, in the 1st edition of the
Materia Medica Pura (1811) 279 symptoms and in the IInd edition of Materia
Medica Pura (1823) 287 symptoms.Dr.Hahnemann was aided in this proving
by Gutmann, Friedrich Hahnemann, Langhamer and Wislicenus.Drosera became
famous as a remedy for whooping cough by Hahnemann’s own recommendation
based on observation of Wislicenus, one of the provers.Hahnemann says
, “a single dose is quite sufficient for the homoeopathic cure
of epidemic whooping cough, according to the indications given by symptoms
135,137,144,149, but especially 145 and second part of symptom 143”.
Lastly, some interesting notes about Drosera.
The famous English Naturalist Charles Robert Darwin(1809-1882), found
that the Sundew can be excited when a piece of thread is laid on it
weighing no more than 1/78,000 of a grain. The highest sensitiveness
character of Sundew exactly appear in our Materia Medica as a proving
symptom, i.e. “Pain as from bruise, excessively distressing sensitiveness,
paralytic weakness in all limbs”.
A delightful belief was that silver when put into the distilled water
of Sundew turned to gold. In Ayurvedic system of medicine, Drosera plant
is used in the preparation of gold bhasma.
Dr. P. F. Curie (1799-1853) a famous Homoeopath explained that he had
slowly poisoned three cats with daily doses of Drosera. Diarrhoea at
the commencement, and weakness of voice about six week later, and on
post-mortem both lungs were studded with true tubercle bacilli. One
cat’s mesenteric glands enlarged and another’s sub-maxillary
glands, with the solitary glands of the large intestine.