Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sitting not so pretty...

Utricularia vulgaris:

Ah, the things I do to get a good picture of an interesting plant would probably surprise some. In fact, they often do.

This picture was taken this past weekend with me precariously sitting on the very edge of a swamp with my clothes getting soaked through. Had I not been careful and balanced, it would really not have taken much for me to plunge head-first into this swamp. Fortunately, I did not fall in, only came out just a bit wet in some places.

The plant that I worked so hard on getting a good picture and getting my clothes somewhat soaked is the common bladderwort. It is a carnivorous plant that feeds on zooplankton, fairy shrimp, waterfleas, copepods, scuds, paramecia, rotifers, nematodes, and microscopic insect larvae. This is a floating, submerged plant. The bladders which trap the prey are located on the leaves of the plant which are partially submerged. The bladder of the plant "pops" open when there is a disturbance in the water and captures the prey.

Charles Darwin, along with two other biologists identified the "bladder" of this plant as an "trapping device" rather than a "floatation device" as some had originally thought.

Was getting soaked worth this picture? I hope so...


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