If you are a regular reader of this flower blog, you will know that the world is full of weird and unusual flowers and plants, such as: ghost orchids, plants that can dance, plants that can numb toothaches, plants that look like “Hooker’s Lips, and so much more!
Fun Flower Facts is definitely a blog you should follow or read on a regular basis if you enjoy learning about strange plants!
Today we’re profiling one of the strangest in the world: the bladderwort or utricularia.
Its common name refers to the numerous, small, bladder-shaped traps that are attached to the leaves, which are used to capture small, unsuspecting creatures. There could be hundreds or even thousands of traps on each plant. The hollow, transparent traps can be as small as a pinhead or as 1/4 inch in diameter, but they are effective at catching prey at phenomenal speeds! Prey are sucked into the traps quicker than a blink of an eye!
The traps are covered with tiny hairs that lure prey in. The instant a prey touches a hair, the door opens inwards and traps the prey and any surrounding water inside. Once the prey has been caught, there is no escape. When the trap closes, an slimy substances keeps it watertight, creating a strong vacuum within. It takes the bladderwort a few hours to digest its prey.
Aquatic species tend to have larger traps than the terrestrial ones, as they feed on prey such as water fleas, mosquito larvae and young tadpoles.
With over 200 species, the bladderwort is the largest genus of carnivorous plants. It is related to the butterwort or pinguicula. These plants grow on every continent of the world, except for Antarctica. Plants range in size, from five inches to several feet long! Butterworts can be grown on land in wet soils or as free floating aquatic plants in ponds, swamps, bogs and the like. Bladderworts are rootless, but leaves do grow on thin, hairlike stems. Most of the plant is underground or in water.
And believe it or not, these slimy-looking plants are cultivated for their flowers. When flowers do appear, they emerge from the stems above the soil or water surface. Bladderwort produces attractive blooms in shades of yellow, white, pink, lavender and red, that look similar to an orchid or snapdragon. The blooms range from 1/4 – 2 inches in diameter.