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 Bladderwort Family
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Lentibulariaceae (from the old generic name Lentibularia, said to mean lens, + a small pipe, significance obscure). Bladderwort Family. Fig. 53. Aquatic or marsh herbs, or epiphytes: leaves alternate, rarely whorled, very diverse; sometimes finely dissected, or peltate, or oval, or lanceolate; sometimes of two very distinct kinds; usually with very small scattered bladder-like lobes consisting of a complicated trap-like mechanism for catching tiny swimming organisms, or with the whole upper surface of the undivided leaf very glutinous so that insects stick fast to it; either all basal or all cauline, or both: flowers bisexual, irregular; calyx 2-5-cleft, persistent; corolla 5-lobed, more or less 2-lipped and with a spur or sack at the base; upper lip 2-lobed; lower 3-lobed, often with a palate in the throat; stamens 2, epipetalous; ovary superior, of 2 carpels but 1-celled; placenta free-central; style 1; stigmas 2: fruit a capsule.

Belonging to this family are 5 genera and about 300 species, of which at least 200 belong to Utricularia; they are distributed in all parts of the globe but are more numerous in the tropics. One fossil species is known. The family is related to the Scrophulariaceae. The irregular corolla, 2 stamens, and l-celled ovary with central placenta, are important characters. This is a most interesting family of insectivorous plants; with the exception of Pinguicula, they are adapted to catch organisms that swim in the water of ponds, or, in case of the epiphytes, in the rain-water in the cracks and crevices of the host plant.

Utricularias were formerly used locally as medicine. The secretion of the leaves of Pinguicula contains a pepsin-like digestive ferment. The Lapps use these leaves to curdle the reindeer milk, hence the common name, butterwort. Danish peasant girls are said to use the juice as a hair-pomade. Another account says, "Pinguicula leaves, whether fresh or dry, are used by the Lapps to thicken fresh still-warm milk, which neither curdles nor gives cream thereafter, but forms a delicious compact tenacious mass, a small portion of which will act similarly on another quantity of fresh milk."

Two genera are in cultivation in N. America for their peculiar habit and curious orchid-like flowers, which are often very showy: Pinguicula (Butterwort); and Utricularia (Bladderwort), mostly epiphytic.


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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