Bladderwort – Utricularia
The Bladderwort, or Utricularia, is a highly evolved acquatic carnivorous plant. Honestly, they’re probably one of the most highly evolved species of plants, period. They photosynthesize and produce flowers – and that’s about where the similarities between Bladderworts and plants, in general, end. They hold no roots, stems or leaves. Oh yah, and did I mention that they use miniature trap doors attached to digestive-enzyme-secreting bladders to snag and digest unsuspecting aquatic and semi-aquatic prey? Yah, they’re funky. But really, it’s in the best possible way.
With more than 228 species of Bladderworts, they’re also the largest genus of carnivorous plants. With so many species, you’d rightly expect them to be the most geographically widespread carnivorous plant, growing on almost every continent save for frozen Arctic regions and oceanic islands (they’re freshwater aquatic plants). Species are highly adaptable, surviving drought by morphing into underground rice-sized tubers, and freezes by morphing into dormant, hairy buds called turrions. You’ll find them nestled within other plants, like bromeliads, frozen Alaskan swamps, seasonally wet Australian deserts, in fast-moving African waters, in mossy South American trees, and acidic ponds of Florida. There’s nary an environment Bladderworts can’t conquer.