A carnivorous, aquatic plant with several yellow flowers on a stem that rises above the water over a wheel-like float of inflated leaf stalks.
When swimming prey, such as minute crustaceans, touch the trigger hairs surrounding the mouth of one of the bladders, a trapdoor-like flap of tissue swings open and the bladder quickly expands, sucking the organisms inside. Enzymes are secreted to dissolve the prey into nutritional elements for the plant. Among the fifteen species that occur in eastern North America, only this one has floats. Reversed Bladderwort (U. resupinata) and Purple Bladderwort (U. purpurea) have purple flowers. U. olivacea is the most delicate. The entire plant is no longer than a dime, with a yellowish-white flower less than 1/10 (2.5 mm) long borne on a stalk 1/10-1/3 (2.5-8 mm) tall. Greater Bladderwort (U. vulgaris) is a common yellow-flowering form that lacks the inflated leaf stalks.
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