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My Aldrovanda Pond


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#1 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 04 April 2008 - 15:33 PM

Here is a small and isolated pond near me, which happens to be a rainwater run-off basin behind a shopping mall! I have full permission from the land owner to grow these plants in there. It routinely dries out completely at least once or twice each summer, sometimes for nearly two months at a time. Other attempts to get them to grow in far more pristine (and isolated) sites all failed, this is the only site, (aside from a pond in New York) where they come back every year since 2001.

The pond is very shallow, only ankle to knee deep for the most part, although there are a few deeper areas, which is only waist deep, and the Aldrovanda refuses to grow in those deeper spots.

There is an abundance of clay here, the pH is neutral (pH=7.0), and moderately hard. Occasionally, the surface has a blue sheen to it, like an oil slick, but it seems to be a form of iron instead, which is rather common in areas of the NJ Pine Barrens, about 50 miles south from here.

Note how shallow they prefer, and how close to large monocot plants they find themselves, and the conspicuous absence of any algae.

Duckweed and a prolific small leaf water lily that also grows in this pond would completely overtake the surface if I didn't manually intervene and remove them at least once a week. If something were to happen to me, the Aldrovanda in this site would be driven to oblivion by these other plants within a season or two.

After years of trying to grow them in various containers, it turns out that almost all of my presumptions, assertions, ideas and understandings of these plants were wrong. Here are the pics, and I'll elaborate in future posts to this thread. Essentially, it's NOT the Chemistry of the water that's the key, but the Biology!

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- Rich

#2 jimscott

 
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Posted 04 April 2008 - 16:44 PM

Thank you for pics! I'm hoping to get a colony in the future. Could you elucidate on the biology aspect of cultivation? Would they do will as a companion with U. gibba?

#3 Stefano

 
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Posted 04 April 2008 - 16:46 PM

Nice :)

I would love to put some in my pond - but they would eat all the tadpoles! :wink:

#4 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 04 April 2008 - 17:24 PM

Ha ha! Here, the huge bullfrog tadpoles feed on the Aldrovanda, and strip off the leaves, traps and all, leaving only the apical tips, with a long leafless string behind it during their peak stages! :P Turtles, ducks and geese have also feasted heavily on the floating dormant turions, decimating the population, and even birds have been observed pulling strands out for nesting material. Perhaps even deer who also visit the pond may feed on them.

After years, (OK, decades) of trying to grow them in containers, with various "soup mixes", and at various pH levels, I can see now that these plants are far more complicated than what I originally thought!

They are constituent members of a complex symbiotic community, involving insects (mosquito larvae, they are the ONLY aquatic CP that can catch and consume the larger stages), crustaceans (small fresh water shrimp and copepods), snails, tubiflex worms, and other members of the zooplanktonic community, but also has a close relationship with the large monocot plants, whose roots are heavy nitrogen feeders, and quickly absorb and assimilate the excess nitrogenous matter that Aldrovanda releases, and in return, the roots of these monocot plants release CO2 which the Aldrovanda uses for photosynthesis. They cannot survive well for more than a few weeks without ALL their constituent symbiotic members present in close proximity, and the very shallow areas have the highest population densities of these creatures and CO2. Also, the presence of clay has some significance, not sure what, but this has been confirmed by other authorities.

The small snails and copepods have actually been observed grooming the strands and feeding on the algae, and also become meals for them as well. The small snails pull out the spent carcasses, which would otherwise become loaded with algae.

In the pond, algae seems to go into decline when Aldrovanda is present, and I have even scooped out large clouds of filamentous algae, and thrown it into a dense mat of Aldrovanda strands, and within two days, the algae is gone! Curiously, the aquatic Utrics that once grew in there, usually get swallowed up by these clouds of algae. The Utrics occupy the deeper parts of the pond. don't really compete with the Aldrovanda, and also cannot cope with the extensive periods of dessication, where the pond has no free standing water at all, and becomes a newly seeded grassy backyard lawn; the Aldrovanda does survive! I'll mention how they pull this trick off next post; don't want to put anyone to sleep here! :wink:

Here's a few more pics of them near Carex hummocks:

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Here they are growing in the dense grass, in only a few inches of water.

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Here, they were growing commingled the the grasses that came up after a dry spell, but after a rain storm that lasted several days flooded the pond, they float to the surface, and after I took this shot noticed a small pickerel looking back up at me!

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- Rich

Edited by rsivertsen, 04 April 2008 - 17:32 PM.


#5 Martin Hingst

 
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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:51 AM

Still awake, Rich :tu:

Very interesting! I think the water chemistry plays a role too, but I agree that the biology is of equal importance.

Maybe they prefer the shallow water, because it warms up more easily?

Thanks and regards

Martin

#6 Bob H

 
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Posted 05 April 2008 - 13:52 PM

Well done and many thanks. Fascinating plant with, it seems, a VERY complex life cycle.
Me thinks a larger, more naturalistic pool is in order for me to build :tu:

#7 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:36 AM

Very nice Aldrovanda-site there! Wich Aldrovanda clone is it by the way? Is it an European form or from Japan? Here I had introduced succesfully Aldrovanda from Poland and Hungary in a naturereserve called 'De Haeck' near Nieuwkoop in The Netherlands. Sadly however the natureorganisation wants to get it removed because they say it will endanger the local Utricularia minor population because of compition. Thats what they say however.
But some historical sites in Europe had Aldrovanda and Utiricularia growing together.

In Europe Aldrovanda is higly endangered and because of habitad degradation and habitad loss its future is uncertain. In North America it seems to feel at home very well! Although not native there it can be a refuge for our European Aldrovanda clones like the most endagered red form of Hungary. It seems that In North America there are still qieut a lot of potential good habitats for Aldrovanda.

Good luck with the Aldrovandas in New Jersey!

#8 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:38 AM

P.s.

The chemical element bor seems to play a vital role for the growth of temperated Aldrovanda clones.
And bor is found in clay and loam.

Alexander

#9 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:27 AM

In my years of growing Aldrovanda and Utics in this same site, Utic's seem to occupy a very different niche from the Aldrovanda and did NOT present any competition with the Aldrovanda nor each other.

I tried many times to get the local Utric species to grow in this site before the Aldrovanda had naturalized, but all those attempts failed to thrive, and never made it through the winter dormancy. Algae blooms invariably overwhelmed and chocked them to death.

It wasn't until Aldrovanda had been fairly established that these local Utric species began to flourish and survive enough to make their appearance the following winter season! ;)

#10 Adrián Antón

 
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Posted 11 December 2008 - 14:03 PM

IMPRESSIVE.
Aldrobvanda to prove myself lucky, but I believe that now is dead, or Hiverna.
sobevive if the winter would put on my pond, although not if they eat fish ....

#11 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 11 January 2009 - 03:40 AM

Aldrovanda from Europe and Russia (Far East) are winterhardy. The turions overwinter at the bottom. Tropical and subtropical forms have to overwinter frostfree.

Alexander

#12 Clue

 
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Posted 26 March 2009 - 00:05 AM

A bit irresponsible, if you ask me. Are you the one Barry talks about in his book? A least you helped growers learn something: MONOCOT PLANTS!

#13 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 26 March 2009 - 16:09 PM

A bit irresponsible, if you ask me. Are you the one Barry talks about in his book? A least you helped growers learn something: MONOCOT PLANTS!


Perhaps, but I'm NOT the ONLY one who has Aldrovanda naturalized in some small isolated private pond. They are NOT easy to get naturalized, and dozens of previous attempts have all failed in other isolated private ponds. I consider it as "farming" Aldovanda so that it can be studied and observed in a more natural setting. It's nearly impossible to emulate all the variable factors that it requires in an artificial container. Many plants are farmed for various reasons, that are not indigenous plants, it doesn't make it irresponsible. It is no where near any natural water feature where they may escape, and they are in a privately owned pond with permission, and is perfectly legal. Aldrovanda is in serious decline in many parts of their original habitats, including Japan, and has already gone extinct in many of their original countries. Let's hope that some of us can find a way to keep it alive in the event that it may need to be reintroduced if it gets to that. Barry and I have come to terms on this matter, having discussed it over some time.

Edited by rsivertsen, 26 March 2009 - 16:14 PM.


#14 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 25 August 2009 - 19:33 PM

You could compaire it with keeping Preswalskii horses in natureserves here in Europe. They origenate in Mongolia but by keeping other groups in other naturreseves outside its natural area you increas the species survival because the more areas with a populations the less risk the whole population my be wipt out by a desease or whatever. For plants like Aldrovanda it would be the same. And Aldrovanda is serious in danger. Its strange its not allready on a Cites list.

The culture remaines difficult. Last year I had some succes with Polish Aldrovanda but they did not come back last spring. To mimick its natural biotope in culture is not easy.
So I guess its best to keep them in natural environements. ?Due to its critical demands concerning its habitad it will not be likely to became a pest as some people may think.

Alexander

#15 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 25 August 2009 - 20:43 PM

You could compaire it with keeping Preswalskii horses in natureserves here in Europe. They origenate in Mongolia but by keeping other groups in other naturreseves outside its natural area you increas the species survival because the more areas with a populations the less risk the whole population my be wipt out by a desease or whatever. For plants like Aldrovanda it would be the same. And Aldrovanda is serious in danger. Its strange its not allready on a Cites list.

The culture remaines difficult. Last year I had some succes with Polish Aldrovanda but they did not come back last spring. To mimick its natural biotope in culture is not easy.
So I guess its best to keep them in natural environements. ?Due to its critical demands concerning its habitad it will not be likely to became a pest as some people may think.

Alexander


Hey Alexander, Thanks!

After some 10+ years of having them growing in this small privately owned pond, which is also isolated from any pristine natural water feature, just like farming a plant, it is safe for now, I hope, and we all get to learn a little more about this amazing plant; things that I never would have guessed, or imagined, like their ability to grow out of water and survive dry spells. Knowing what I do now about them, and their very narrow set of growing requirements, I firmly believe that these plants pose NO threat to anything, and will most likely NOT go feral and cause any problems to any of the indigenous plants, including Utric's. I have tried to naturalize them in dozens of other remote sites, all of them private property, with permissions, and they have all failed to thrive, and died out for various reasons. This site, and one or two others are the ONLY ones that have succeeded so far.

Fact is that they ARE going extinct very fast, even in Japan, where attempts to re-naturalize them are not working out very well in the long term for some reason. These plants are VERY fussy and demanding about their growing requirements, which is pretty complicated too, and if ALL those things are not in place, they will fail to thrive, go into decline and eventually die out, sometimes within months. Places that do have ALL these requirements in place are actually quite rare, far and few between.

The Pine Barrens waterways are mostly too cold, too dark, too deep, too acidic, lacking proper monocot plant associates, and moves too fast for Aldrovanda to become an introduced nuisance plant anywhere in that region. Still, uninformed, arrogant self-righteous, finger wagging people will make these judgmental and condescending comments although they probably have never successfully grown these plants themselves, and have absolutely NO "Clue" of what they're talking about! It's too bad really, perhaps the others who have these plants naturalized in their small ponds may also have some insights that could be of value, but keep quiet instead, in fear of being attacked, and called "irresponsible" like I have. Suppressing knowledge is never a good thing. Stupid and arrogant people have always hindered the advancement of science and knowledge; it's just the way it is. - Rich

Edited by rsivertsen, 25 August 2009 - 21:02 PM.


#16 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 25 August 2009 - 23:47 PM

Aldrovanda from Poland and Hungary (red form) have been naturalised a couple of years ago in ''De Haak'' in Nieuwkoop in The Netherlands. The plants where thriving there but the owner of that area ones to irradicate them because they are regarded as an exotic plant threatening the survival of Utricularia minor. Well Utricularia minor, and some other Utricularia grow wild together with Aldrovanda in some other areas in Europe or at Aldrovanda stands in the past. And Utricularia minor is a circumpolair species and not realy endangered. In The Netherlands there are about 20 to 30 places where it can be found. Usely naturereserves.
The fact that Aldrovanda survives and thrives in our densely populated country shows that here the naturereserves are usely very well maintained!
The nearest real wild population where 45 km south of Berlin and near the Bodensee in Germany. Aldrovanda fossils have been traced here in Holland from the Emien interglacial period.

Both stands are gone now.
Well anyway this Aldrovanda is not considered native so should be erradicated in this country according to the owner of that natureserve. But I guess its almost impossible to get rid of it there because it grows in difficuld boggy habitats hidden among reeds and other stuff.

The question is when is a plant native or not. Plants do not carry a pasport. In America its certainly a non native species. But in The Netherlands wich is an European country...

Alexander

#17 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 26 August 2009 - 01:18 AM

That's a very good point Alexander! Also, the Hungarian red forms are very rare indeed, and only occur in a few sites; and not all of them are red, only a small percent. Saving this strain, and other rare, and endangered strains should be a priority in my opinion.

I have several Utrics growing with Aldrovanda now, including semi-aquatics and amphibious species which generally grow in the same depths as Aldrovanda and they seem to occupy very different niches, and grow at different times; the Utrics are the first to emerge from winter dormancy and begin to grow, flower and then die back in late June, while the Aldrovanda is slow to emerge, and get going, and usually grows best from mid to late July when most of the Utrics have finished flowering and have set seed. I have seen NO competition between Aldrovanda and any other Utric so far. In fact, some species of Utrics were only able to naturalize in this pond AFTER the Aldrovanda had naturalized, because it is so effective in keeping the algae under control; otherwise, massive algae blooms would overwhelm and snuff out most Utrics. Just how, exactly, Aldrovanda keeps algae under control so effectively is still a mystery to me, but I suspect it's due to the zooplankton that it attracts. - Rich

#18 Alexander Nijman

 
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Posted 27 August 2009 - 00:52 AM

Rich,

I did not know that, very interessting.

Alexander

#19 Clue

 
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Posted 25 November 2009 - 17:55 PM

Hey Rich... I do apologize for that... I didn't really know what I was talking about.

I do actually have some Aldovanda that I am experimenting with, however. I have tried growing Aldrovanda outside countless times, using different containers, companion plants, waters... they all eventually died out. I did spring on a chance to trade for some various forms of Aldrovanda from Jeremiah Harris in September. They came as dormant turions, and I divided them into two groups, one indoors and one out.

My indoor setup is nothing more than a half-filled ten gallon tank with a peat and vermiculite substrate. The flora include the Aldrovanda themselves, U. inflata, and a plant known as Anacharis. The Aldrovanda were quick to come out of dormancy, and 3 turions turned into five plants about the size of my thumb since I've had them. (On closer inspection, I have seen Planariums, Daphnia, and Physa snails.)

My outdoor setup is the one that I pay no attention to. It was a mini-pond project that I was working on. It was simply a three-gallon bucket with Carex conica, parrot's feather, and a common and hardy pond snail. I casually threw 3 turions into the bucket... I will see what happens come spring.

Rich and all, fantastic findings throughout the years. :smile:

Edited by Clue, 25 November 2009 - 18:20 PM.


#20 rsivertsen

 
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Posted 25 November 2009 - 19:38 PM

Rich and all, fantastic findings throughout the years. :smile:


Thanks Clue! I should also mention that Aldrovanda has a horrific winter fatality rate, up to 95% is actually normal, according to Lubomir Adamec (pers. comm).

I have found that peat mixes almost always seem to promote algae blooms for some reason, and lowers the pH quite a bit. The Aldrovanda does best with some clay and leaf litter with a neutral pH=7.0.

Jeremiah's Aldrovanda may actually have come from me, not 100% sure. I sent quite a bit out over the years, and lost track of all the people I sent them to. Some went to grad students for research purposes.

Their exponential growth rate is really amazing to witness first hand, especially in mid to late summer when they're in full growth, doubling their biomass (and population) every week!

- Rich