En route to the top of Aasvoelkop on Friday, we came across a beautiful display of Utricularia bisquamata flowers, Cape bladderwort or Kaapse blasieblom.
Utricularia bisquamata is a small annual carnivorous plant, a bladderwort indigenous to South Africa. It is named for its tiny subterranean bladder that captures small organisms by means of its bladder like trap. The plant feeds on minute prey such as protozoa and rotifiers, swimming in water saturated soil.
Utricularia bisquamata grows as a terrestrial plant in damp, sandy or peaty soils among mosses by streams or wet depressions at altitudes from near sea level to 1200m.
It was originally described and published by Frantz Paula von Shrank in 1824.
Bladder traps are exclusive to the genus Utricularia.
The bladder pumps ions out of the interior water of the bladder. This is followed by osmosis thus creating a negative pressure inside the bladder in relation to its environment.
When the trap door is mechanically triggered, the prey along with the water surrounding it, is sucked into the bladder. Once the bladder is full of water the hinged door closes. This process takes only ten to fifteen thousandths of a second!
The bladder traps are recognised as one of the most sophisticated structures in the plant kingdom.
Article by Liz Hutton. Image by Sandy Jenkin