A Tale of Two Growers
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Greetings! Dan here.
This is our first of hopefully many species profiles. In essence, species profiles will include a generous amount of growing information about a particular species, including tips, our experiences, and photos. Please let us know if you find this article helpful. I hope you enjoy!
Some general information on Utricularia:
Since we haven't talked much about Utricularia on our blog, I'll write a quick overview of the genus. Utricularia (bladderworts) is a genus of over 200 carnivorous plants. While very diverse, all Utricularia essentially share the same underlying structure. They have a network of underground stems (known as a stolons) that grow under the soil surface for terrestrial species, along supports (usually mossy tree trunks, rocks, etc.) for epiphytes, and free-floating for aquatic species. Attached to the stolon are small bladders, which are sealed with a "trapdoor." Water is pumped outside of the bladder, leaving the interior of the bladder with negative pressure relative to the outside and creating a partial vacuum. The outside of each trapdoor contains trigger hairs, much like a Venus fly trap (although the trigger hairs of Utricularia are purely mechanical in nature, in contrast to those of Venus fly traps, which work on irritability). When these hairs are touched, the trapdoor opens and the vacuum sucks in the nearby prey, usually consisting of protozoa and other soil inhabitants. In order to photosynthesize, the stolons produce leaf shoots that penetrate the soil surface.