Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia L.) is a carnivorous plant that occurs mostly in acidic peatlands of the northern hemisphere. It is traditionally used as a medicinal plant to treat airway diseases and is commercially important for the manufacture of phytopharmaceuticals.
However Europe is the continent with the largest loss of natural peatlands, the natural habitat of sundew, due to drainage. Therefore the three native sundew species in Europe are protected in most European countries and not available as a raw material for the phytopharmaceutical industry.

In 2012 the first trials were undertaken in Germany to grow sundew from seed on artificially established peatmoss lawn. By 2015 the effort was bearing fruits; a cultivation method that was previously thought not feasible turned out to be successful encompassing to grow both peatmosses and sundew together. Currently a new site is established to grow round-leaved sundew commercially for pharmaceutical purposes.

The innovation to produce sundew sustainably by reestablishing its natural habitat, comes with a number of environmental benefits:

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

By establishing the production site on cutover raised bog the remaining peat is preserved and the release of greenhouse gas emissions reduced to the level of natural peatlands. Once the peatmosses start to grow they will lay down new peat layers sequestering carbon.

Prevention of water pollution

Drained peatlands are a major source of pollution for adjacent water bodies because from the decaying peat nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen seep out into the environment. Our method of sundew cultivation prevents the remaining peat from further decay thus stopping the seepage of further pollutants. Moreover, in comparison to conventional agriculture sundew cultivation does not use fertilizers or pesticides.

Conservation of rare wetland species by recreating new habitats

The re-established habitat for sundew cultivation provides also a habitat for many rare wetland species that are specifically adapted to acidic raised bog conditions such as the white-beaked sedge (Rhynchospora alba) or specialised spiders.

Ecologically and economically sustainable procurement of raw materials

In contrast to the collection of wild plants farming sundew in paludiculture provides a sustainable alternative to procure the medical drug `Droserae herba`. This has positive effects on climate, the environment and wild populations.

© 2017 PALUDiMED.