Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort Family)
A carnivorous, perennial, shallow water herb.
Distinguishing Features - Leaves: alternate, with few divisions; segments slender, flat, smooth edged. Bladders: small, deflated, pear-shaped pouches; tiny, 1 - 2 mm long, 1 to 5 per leaf; opening abruptly when trigger hairs are disturbed, sucking in any careless, small aquatic creature; dgestive enzymes and bacteria in the bladder then digest the prey for nutritional use of the plant; when digestion is complete, the nutrient-rich water is extracted from the bladder into the stem, resetting the trap for the next victim. Stem: creeping along bottom or on wet soil; limited branching; 10 - 30 cm long. Roots absent. Flowers: pale yellow, irregular in form, resembling a snapdragon; generally 2 - 8 on the end of a thread-like stalk rising 15 cm above the water's surface; individual flower stalks curved downward when in fruit; lower lip of blossom 4 - 8 mm long, twice the length of the upper; spur quite short. Sepals: 2 to 5. Petals: 5, united to form upper and lower lips. Stamens: 2. Ovary: superior, within blossom; inferior, below flower. Fruit: a many-seeded, single chamber capsule.
Circumboreal; in open bogs, sedge meadows, and marshlands; preferring calcium-rich shallow water.
The bladders of the Bladderworts had long been assumed to be used for flotation until Charles Darwin and associates concluded they were sophisticated traps for tiny animals.
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