|Utricularia subsp. var.||Bladderwort|
Utricularia, commonly and collectively called the bladderworts, is a genus of carnivorous plants consisting of approximately 227 species (precise counts differ based on classification opinions; one recent publication lists 215 species). They occur in fresh water and wet soil as terrestrial or aquatic species across every continent except Antarctica. Utricularia are cultivated for their flowers, which are often compared with those of snapdragons and orchids, and among carnivorous plant enthusiasts.
All Utricularia are carnivorous and capture small organisms by means of bladder-like traps. Terrestrial species tend to have tiny traps that feed on minute prey such as protozoa and rotifers swimming in water-saturated soil.
The main part of a bladderwort plant always lies beneath the surface of its substrate. Terrestrial species sometimes produce a few photosynthetic leaf-shoots which lie unobtrusively flat against the surface of their soil, but in all species only the flowering stems rise above and are prominent. This means that the terrestrial species are generally visible only while they are in flower, although aquatic species can be observed below the surfaces of ponds and streams.
Flowers are the only part of the plant clear of the underlying soil or water. They are usually produced at the end of thin, often vertical inflorescences. They can range in size from 2 mm to 10 cm wide, and have two asymmetric labiate (unequal, lip-like) petals, the lower usually significantly larger than the upper. They can be of any colour, or of many colours, and are similar in structure to the flowers of a related carnivorous genus, Pinguicula.
The flowers of aquatic varieties like U. vulgaris are often described as similar to small yellow snapdragons, and the Australian species U. dichotoma can produce the effect of a field full of violets on nodding stems. The epiphytic species of South America, however, are generally considered to have the showiest, as well as the largest, flowers. It is these species that are frequently compared with orchids.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Utricularia (Latin, a little bag or skin, referring to the bladders). Lentibulariaceae. Bladderwort. As known to gardeners, the bladderworts are of two rather distinct groups—the aquatic mostly native kinds sometimes used in pools and aquaria, and the tropical terrestrial kinds sometimes grown in warmhouses with orchids and other special plants. The whole group is of little importance horticulturally.
As commonly understood, Utricularia is a genus of some 200 aquatic and terrestrial herbs, of cosmopolitan distribution. Recently, however, the genus has been split into several genera, and the name Utricularia retained for certain aquatic species; with this taxonomic innovation, however, we are not concerned in this brief account. Under the older and prevailing definition, Utricularia comprises plants with numerous slender wiry scapes bearing one or many fls.: calyx large, 2-parted or 2-lobed; corolla with a spur which is usually long and curved under the fl.; posterior lip erect, entire, emarginate or 2-fid; anterior lip often large, broad, and showy, spreading or reflexed, entire, crenate or 3-lobed, or the middle lobe various: lvs. of the aquatic species much dissected, sometimes disappearing at flowering-time, very delicate: plant floating or rooting in the mud, the lvs., branches, and sometimes the roots bearing minute bladders; lvs. of terrestrial species linear or spatulate and rosulate at base of plant. The bladders trap small aquatic animals. These bladders have a valve-like door through which the animals enter when looking for food or when trying to escape from other creatures; they are most numerous and effective in the species which float in stagnant water. They are fewer in the marsh-inhabiting species. The terrestrial kinds often have minute deformed and useless bladders; these kinds are common in the tropics and are characterized by erect foliage of the ordinary type. These often form little tubers by which they may be propagated. The native aquatic species propagate themselves by seeds and also by winter buds. (A winter bud of another aquatic plant is figured under Elodea, p. 1110). Some of the utricularias are epiphytic in a way. Those who are familiar with bromeliaceous plants know how the water gathers in the axils of the lvs. These bromeliads are themselves often epiphytic, perching on high trees in moisture-laden tropical jungles. In the miniature ponds supplied by the lf .-axils of Vriesia and other bromeliads live certain utricularias with fully developed and effective bladders. Occasionally they send out a long "feeler" or runner-like shoot which finds another bromeliad and propagates another bladderwort.
The aquatic utricularias are sometimes cultivated in aquaria, but their flowers are not showy, nor are those of any of the hardy kinds. A number of them are native in lakes and ponds in the United States and Canada. The showy species are the terrestrial and epiphytic kinds of the tropics. These, for complexity of floral structure, beauty of color and lasting qualities, vie with certain orchids. In fact, they are usually grown by orchid-lovers in orchid-houses. Perhaps the most desirable of the genus are U. montana, U. Endresii, and U. longifolia, each of which represents a different color. Well-grown baskets of these plants have numerous scapes a foot or so high bearing five to twenty flowers, each 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. In general, such plants are grown in warmhouses, U. Endresii requiring a stove temperature, while some of the others may thrive in an intermediate house. As a class they are grown in baskets, near the light, using a compost of fibrous peat and sand. The plants are kept constantly wet during the growing season and until the flowers are gone. During the winter they are rested, being kept in a cooler place and given just enough water to keep the tubers from shriveling. CH
Pests and diseases
Utricularia amethystina flower
- ↑ Salmon, Bruce. 2001. Carnivorous Plants of New Zealand. Ecosphere Publications. ISBN 978-0473080327
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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