Saturday, January 23, 2010

My bladderworts are flowering beautifully

Utricularia exoleta (Utricularia gibba subsp. exoleta)

- and no wonder! Look at the big fat bladders.
In winter, when there’s not much prey to be caught, these bladders are pale green and translucent. The plants are green, so presumably get some of their nutriment from sunshine as well, and I suspect they need this to get them over the winter. When the bladders start to turn black in spring, I know that they’re beginning to find tiny insects to eat. Many of these are probably newly hatched mosquito wrigglers, as the water remains completely mosquito-free.
Once the bladders start to fill, the plants start to flower. It takes a few months for the plants to get enough energy from their summer food source to produce a display like this, which then continues until autumn.
I have often given bits of this plant (whose botanical name is Utricularia exoleta) to friends, who seem to have a high rate of losses. I don’t know why, but suspect that chlorine wouldn’t do them any good. Town water might need to be boiled, and perhaps also allowed to sit for 24 hours afterwards, to make sure the chlorine has all evaporated away, before being poured onto the plant.
I have had losses myself when transferring plants to water in the shade, though a pot of well-established bladderworts seems to be able to live, in the long-term, under the eaves.
See article November 2008, for more on these interesting plants.

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