Aldrovanda vesiculosa naturally grow in acidic ponds and lakes in Africa, Australia, Europe, India, and Japan. They float just beneath the surface of the water among other aquatic plants that provide a source of CO2 that helps the plants thrive. In temperate climates, waterwheels will go dormant in the winter, forming tight turion buds. Turions are wintering buds that become detached from the main plant and remain dormant at the bottom of the water until improved conditions trigger new growth. However, plants growing in the tropics will have vegetative growth all year and won’t produce turions.
These carnivorous plants are rootless (hence the floating) and produce 4 to 8 inch stems from which leaves radiate around. This structure is commonly referred to as a whorl. While one end of the stem grows, the opposite end dies back, maintaining a constant overall length.
Unfortunately, the plants are endangered in Europe due to pollution and have gone extinct in Japan in recent years.