Zigzag Bladderwort, Beach Botany


The Zigzag Bladderwort, Utricularia subulata, is a perennial aquatic plant that is carnivorous. Subulata is a species that creeps along the bottoms of shallow water habitats. The plant grows on a wiry erect stem that’s about 7” high and about 1/8” wide. At the base of the stem is a cluster of grass-blade-like branchlets that emerge from a wet soil substrate. Length is about 3/8”. The plant produces numerous tiny flowers which adds weight to the stem. The stem reacts by zigzagging to support the blooms. The stem can carry as many as 8 flowers but usually it is 2 to 4 flowers.
Flowers have a corolla that is two-lipped and five lobed. The upper lip has two fused petals and the lower lip has three fused petals. At the middle of the corolla is a segment holding two stamens. The corolla is cup-like due to slight curve. Color is orange-yellowish. Flowers are very small. Length is ½” and width ¼.” Flowers are attached to the stem by a short pedicle. Inflorescence is a raceme. Fruit is a capsule 1/16th wide. Subulata feeds on aquatic insects with its bladder traps. It also feeds on nematodes and other wet soil insects.
Habitats are wet flatwoods, swamps, ponds and ditches. It is common throughout the state. Subulata is the smallest of bladderworts in the Genus Utricularia. There are 14 species in the Genus Utricularia, all native. The specimen in the picture was found in a wetland in the Kissimmee Prairie State Park in Highlands County.