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Common Bladderwort

Common Name: Common Bladderwort.

Scientific Name: Utricularia Vulgaris.

What to look for?  Yellow flowers breaking the surface of our ponds. The reddish-green stems of the Common Bladderwort are predominantly underwater but may break through and rise above it.  Flowering stems will have a few widely spaced, alternately attached leaves. At the top of the stem is a raceme of up to twenty (20) small, bright yellow snapdragon-like flowers. The Common Bladderwort is free floating and has no roots. Small reddish bladders extend from leaf filament axils. And, by the way, Common Bladderworts are omnivores! The "bladders" are used to capture small aquatic organisms. The hairs at the opening of the bladder serve as triggers. When contacted, they cause the trap to spring open, drawing in water and organisms like a vacuum. The trapping process takes only 1/460 of one second. Enzymes digest the victim. During the blooming period, these bladders fill with air to keep the plant afloat; and they fill with water to sink the plant when it goes into dormancy.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Common Bladderwort may be found growing in colonies on the surface of the north pond just beyond the Pickerelweed.

How big are they? The Common Bladderwort grows to approximately eight (8) inches tall. The leaves are up to two (2) inches long. The flowers are three-quarters (0.75) of an inch across.

Where do they grow and thrive? Common Bladderwort is native to North America and is found across the United States. It is found in inlets and quiet corners in lakes, ponds, wet marshes, rivers and streams, ditches, and excavation sites.

When do they bloom? The Common Bladderwort blooms during the summer months.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? Several insects, mammals, and waterfowl use Common Bladderwort as a food source, and others use the stems as shelter, or to lay eggs.

Interesting Facts About the Common Bladderwort:

  • Common Bladderwort is an aquatic carnivorous plant.

  • The genus ‘Utricularia’ is Latin meaning "little bag,” referring to the "bladders" on the stems.

  • Common Bladderwort's tiny stinging hairs contain an acid that can cause a severe, burning skin irritation.

For more information on the Common Bladderwort and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Minnesota Wildflowers, Ontario Wildflowers, Michigan Flora Online, University of Texas Wildflower Center, and U.S. Forest Service Plant of the Week.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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