Aquatic Utricularia or Bladderwort is a water-loving plant native to the North America. It can be commonly found in waterlogged soils, ponds, rivers, marshlands, waterways. The plant is a source of nutrition for birds like waterfowl, insects, and some mammals. Other aquatic species use Bladderwort stems as nesting cover or for laying eggs.
The carnivorous plant can be identified as small, sac-like structure (bladder) that is scattered all over the green aquatic foliage. Utricularia is also known as the smallest of carnivorous plants because of its intricate structure.
• Bladderwort is the fastest predatory plant on the Earth. The powerful suction trap works faster than the blink of an eye to capture its prey.
• The plant lacks roots and its floating stem bears simple or divided leaves. Leaves are coiled with 4-10 lateral leaves which often split to give it a delicate tubular appearance.
• The petioles or leaf branches are fleshy and filled with air allowing them to float. These underwater oval “bladders” actively catch and suck tiny creatures like aquatic worms, insect larvae, and water fleas.
• The plant can be characterized by its yellow flowers that come above the surface of the water.
• Bladderwort usually grows in shallow, standing, acidic water and forms a thick mesh. The plant can grow about 6 feet deep.
• In nutrient-deficient habitats, eating of animal flesh provides a source of organic phosphorus and nitrogen to the plant. Carnivory also supplies carbon beyond what the plant could generate through photosynthesis.
• Bladderwort may form symbiotic associations with microorganisms near its bladders. This helps in attracting and digesting preys.
Common problems with Bladderwort
Bladderwort can grow invasively and intertwine with neighboring aquatic plants. This makes it imperative to maintain small lakes or recreational ponds on a regular basis. Although bladderwort rarely causes problems, marine biologists recommend practicing preventative management system and manual removal together with treatment to reduce bladderwort population in water bodies.
Simple solutions to bladderwort problems
1. How frequently should I treat Bladderwort?
As bladderwort grows rapidly, you may need several treatments during the growing season.
2. What is the recommended treatment?
Spot treatment can help preserve navigation waterways and swimming bays. Aquatic herbicides have water use limitations. There are chances of oxygen reduction after the treatment. Oxygen depletion can harm aquatic wildlife. If the pond is heavily infested, you should treat the pond in parts to allow each part to decompose before treating another part.
3. What is the ideal time to treat?
Bladderwort treatment will show positive results once water temperature is around sixty degrees.
4. When will I notice results?
The choice of treatment products can influence the outcome. For general foliage, a reduction will be evident in about 2 weeks. However, you can see tissue destruction within 2- 4 days of application of liquid formulations. Some slower acting formulations may take a month’s time to show results.
Bear in mind that bladderwort is quite beneficial so you should treat it only if it is causing any trouble.