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Bladderworts (Utricularia) possess the fastest capture mechanism of all carnivorous plants. Ultrafast bladder traps suck in prey within less than a millisecond. That is 100 times faster than Venus’s flytrap snap shuts. Seven of the ten species that occur in Europe can be found in the region between Lake Constance, Swabian Alb and the Alps. Thanks to the support of the worldwide recognized CP-expert Dr. Jan Schlauer, we were able to film all seven Utricularia at their natural habitat. The terrific speed of prey captures show recordings with a high-speed camera, taken at the labs of the Plant Biomechanics Group of the Botanical Garden of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Germany). Dr. Simon Poppinga kindly provided these remarkable shots. In addition, a scanning electron microscope image featuring the quadrifid glands inside a bladder trap (both published in Poppinga et al. (2016). AoB PLANTS 8: plv140). As the film shows, their shape can be helpful for the determination of several quite similar looking species. Detailed information on our domestic bladderworts is provided by the scientific article “Die Gattung Utricularia in Bayern” (2014) published by the Bavarian Botanical Society, from which we quoted repeatedly in this film. To protect the partly endangered plants, but also because the access to some of the swamp areas without an experienced guide is not at all harmless, we do explicitly not mention exact locations. Our film provides English subtitles. Enjoy!
Last year I took a trip to the northern portion of Michigan and the southern portion of Upper Peninsula. On the trip I encountered various carnivorous plants and orchids. Emmet County (Day 1): The first site was quite unique compared to similar sites I have been to. All of these plants survived in a narrow beach swale only a couple yards to a couple feet from the shores of Lake Michigan. In comparison, swales I have been to in the past were several hundreds of feet away from the shores of Lake Michigan and sheltered by tall sand dunes. Small colonies of Utricularia cornuta were growing terrestrially a couple yards behind the swale were the sand was moist. None of these colonies were growing as affixed aquatics as I had seen in the past. Utricularia intermedia was extremely common at this location. As the water became deeper I began to see more Utricularia macrorhiza. Either Platanthera aquilonis or Platanthera huronensis Mackinac County (Day 2): There were many swales similar to the one I had visited the other day but most of them were very small with no carnivorous plants or orchids. I was able to find what I believed to be some Utricularia gibba in a small pool that was actually connected to the Lake which was pretty interesting. As I traveled around, I did see some Cypripedium but all the flowers were cut unfortunately.Epipactis helleborine was very common along the forest trails. In a marshy area just hidden behind some trees I was greeted by a colony of Spiranthes romanzoffiana just beginning to bloom. Emmet County (Day 3): By this time I was a little frustrated because I was hoping to find some Drosera or Pinguicula vulgaris and it was just starting to drizzle outside. Upon parking I could see some Epipactis helleborine sheltered under the trees. The shores were just a short distance away and as I approached I finally found what I was looking for: Pinguicula vulgaris. A large colony was situated on the side of a pool and spilled over onto the trail heading toward the beach. There were also several colonies on the shores of Lake Michigan living amongst the rocks. Also among the Pinguicula vulgaris were some impressive clusters of Spiranthes cernua