Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wetland Plant of the Week #11

Utricularia cornuta


Carnivorous, obligate (free floating) plant with small bladders located on stems that trap insects. Flowers can be white yellow, pink or purple.

From Wikipedia: All Utricularia are carnivorous and capture small organisms by means of bladder-like traps.

The traps can range is size from 0.2 mm to 1.2 cm. Aquatic species, such as U. vulgaris (common bladderwort), possess bladders that are usually larger and can feed on more substantial prey such as water fleas (Daphnia), nematodes and even fish fry, mosquito larvae and young tadpoles.

Despite their small size, the traps are extremely sophisticated. In the active traps of the aquatic species, prey brush against trigger hairs connected to the trapdoor. The bladder, when "set", is under negative pressure in relation to its environment so that when the trapdoor is mechanically triggered, the prey, along with the water surrounding it, is swept into the bladder. Once the bladder is full of water, the door closes again, the whole process taking only ten to fifteen thousandths of a second.

Photographed this one earlier today in Volusia County, Florida.

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