Utricularia vulgaris L.

common bladderwort, greater bladderwort

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Like other bladderworts, greater bladderwort is carnivorous, trapping small organisms in its tiny bladders. The trap door operates at speeds that rank among the fastest plant movements known. Triggered by protruding hairs on the door, trap bladders open in about 0.5 milliseconds, sucking the animal in, and closing in about 2.5 milliseconds. This comes to about three thousand feet per second, almost three times the speed of sound. Not bad for a herbaceous plant.

Habitat

Lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams)

Characteristics

Habitat
aquatic
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf position
  • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
  • the leaves are all submerged underwater
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade length
15–60 mm
Petal or sepal number
there are two petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Petal color
yellow
Specific leaf type
  • the leaf is divided into two equal parts which in turn are divided into two further parts; each of these parts are divided and each of these may be further divided
  • the leaf is divided into two equal parts; these parts may also be divided into two further parts
  • the leaf is pinnately compound (i.e., it has three or leaflets distributed along a central axis
Floating leaf shape
  • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
  • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
Underwater leaf blade width
Up to 0.75 mm
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Underwater leaf length
15–60 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Turion length
    10–20 mm
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Flower lower lip length
    10–20 mm
    Flower number
    3–14
    Flower position
    the flowers are above the surface of the water
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Inflorescence length
    100–300 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Length of flower stalk
    8–16 mm
    Length of peduncle
    60–200 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    2
    Ovary position
    the sepals and/or petals are attached below the ovary
    Palate on corolla
    yes
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal color
    yellow
    Petal fringed edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal length
    15–25 mm
    Petal number
    2
    Petal or sepal number
    there are two petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Pistil number
    1
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepal length
    2.5–5 mm
    Sepal number
    2
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    • the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    • the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    At least 3 mm
    Stamen number
    1 or 2
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused to petals
    the stamens are fused near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Style number
    1
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit length
    3–5 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a pyxis (when dry it splits around the middle, and the top falls off, exposing the seeds)
    Fruit width
    5 mm
  • Glands or sap
    Oil glands on nodes
    none of the nodes have oil glands
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    NA
    Roots floating in water
    NA
    Turions
    the plant has turions
    Underground organs
    NA
  • Leaves
    Bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Bract relative length
    At least 1379 mm
    Bracts
    the flowers or their pedicels have bracts at their bases
    Floating leaf basal lobes
    yes
    Floating leaf blade width
    Up to 0.75 mm
    Floating leaf length
    0 mm
    Floating leaf shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Floating leaf tip
    • the tip of the floating leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    • the tip of the floating leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Floral bract form
    the bracts are much more lobed, or much less lobed, than the foliage leaves
    Floral bract length
    3–6 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade length
    15–60 mm
    Leaf blade width
    Up to 0.75 mm
    Leaf position
    • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
    • the leaves are all submerged underwater
    Leaf special features
    the leaves have bladder-like traps
    Leaf-like branch segments
    0
    Leaf-like branch shape
    the leaf-like branches are round
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf is divided into two equal parts which in turn are divided into two further parts; each of these parts are divided and each of these may be further divided
    • the leaf is divided into two equal parts; these parts may also be divided into two further parts
    • the leaf is pinnately compound (i.e., it has three or leaflets distributed along a central axis
    Staminate bract edge (Myriophyllum)
    NA
    Stipule appearance
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
    Stipules fused around stem
    NA
    Trap-bladder length
    1.5–5 mm
    Underwater leaf blade edges
    • the underwater leaf blades are lobed
    • the underwater leaf has tiny, one-celled spines or points along the edge
    Underwater leaf blade shape
    • NA
    • the underwater leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the underwater leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Underwater leaf blade width
    Up to 0.75 mm
    Underwater leaf length
    15–60 mm
    Underwater leaf stalk
    yes
    Underwater leaf tip shape
    • the tip of the underwater leaf is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    • the tip of the underwater leaf is rounded, with no point
    Veins in floating leaf
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    aquatic
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem trails along the substrate, or floats in the water

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Utricularia macrorhiza Le Conte
  • Utricularia vulgaris L. var. americana Gray

Genus

Utricularia

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our subspecies is Utricularia vulgaris L. ssp. macrorhiza (Le Conte) Clausen.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

12.  Utricularia vulgaris L. ssp. macrorhiza (Le Conte) Clausen N

greater bladderwort. Utricularia macrorhiza Le Conte; U. vulgaris L. var. americana Gray 
• CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Still or slow-moving water of lakes, rivers, and streams.