Common Bladderwort

Utricularia vulgarisThis plant floats freely in the sluggish waters of ditches, ponds and still swamps. On the leaves, small air-filled oval bubbles can be seen. When flowering, bladderworts stand out in water bodies with their flower stalks rising 15-20 or even 30 cm above water, hosting bright yellow large flowers forming few-flowered trusses. They flower June to September.

The bladderwort is one of the most interesting plants in the region – it is insectivorous. Every small bubble attached to the elegant small leaves is a complex trap with a non-return valve. The microscopic maxillopods – like cyclops or daphnia – small water insects and algae randomly touching a bubble cause it to quickly open in. A moment later the prey is inside the hollow of the trap. They cannot get out, but the glands in the walls of the bubbles will devour their bodies. Thus the bladderwort gets the essential nitric compounds, otherwise scarce in water, and which are   vital for plants to get – aquatic or not.

In the fall, bladderworts form wintering buds. They tear off the main stem, collect into a wad, cover themselves in jelly and descend to the bottom. In the spring, they will release new bladderworts.

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