Sunday, June 2, 2024

Flowers and Floats

These exquisitely unusual structures are specialized "leaves" of the Swollen Bladderwort (Utricularia inflata). They form underwater, and rise to the surface as they mature and become inflated, holding the flower aloft, above the rippling water, for pollination. It's quite an ingenious and successful mechanism. 

Another really cool thing about this plant is that it is carnivorous. There are small sacs (bladders) on the submersed leaves that suck in zooplankton when they brush against their sensitive hair-like triggers. Then the enzymes inside the little sacs get to work digesting them.

These plants are listed as invasive in Maine, but no successful method is yet known for removing them from lakes. Maine is trying multiple approaches for this newly declared invasive.

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