Rootless mass of submerged intricately forked leaves, with yellowish flowers on erect stalks above water

  • English Name: Bladderwort
  • Latin Name: Utricularia spp
  • Propogate: Seeds
  • Symptoms: Yellowish flowers on erect stalks above water

The carnivorous trick of Bladderwort

Bladderwort will, of course, clog your water and make it virtually impossible to fish, boat or simply enjoy the scenery. But it is a weed with character. It has tiny bladders along its submerged stems which explain its name that serve as traps for tiny water animals such as insect larvae, worms and water fleas. The bladders work by pushing water out through a flexible doorway, creating low pressure inside. At the doorway, there are tiny bristles projecting into the water, waiting for prey to pass by. When any unfortunate prey triggers those bristles, the door opens swiftly, sucking in water and the prey, and closes within a third of a second. The food is consumed within 30 minutes and the trap is reset.

That neat trick is the reason why bladderwort thrives in water with little nutrients. It also thrives so well because it is not eaten by animals, not even by ducks or other water birds.

Uses and Danger of Bladderwort

There are about 220 different kinds of bladderworts, differing in size and the color of their flowers. Yellow is the most common color of the flowers with a few species tending towards lavender. All the species of the weed are seasonal plants, usually taking a year to complete a life cycle. They reproduce through seeds, with each plant producing many seeds in readiness for the next season.

Because of its intricate leaves and bright flowers bladderwort is a popular aquarium plant. But its carnivorous taste means it is not good at creating a habitat for tiny invertebrates that fish and other water animals can feed on. And like all weeds, it can clog the water, affect fishing and boating, and generally become a nuisance.

Bladderwort Control

It is possible to get rid of bladderworts by physically removing the mass of weed from the water, for example using rakes. But that is a tedious and ineffective process that leaves enough plants behind to begin a new generation. Some herbicides are also effective.

An easier and safer alternative solution to bladderworts infestation is to use our DeSkuzzer. The Deskuzzer is better in small water bodies, but will do a great job clearing lakes that have small areas of Bladderwort. It is a 5 foot wide floating seine that collects weed and other water debris “the skuzz ” as it is dragged along the surface of the water. It has a 24 foot pull line and ultra tough screen material.