Bladderworts – nature’s fastest plant

I collect outdoor UK carnivorous plants. They are interesting from an evolutionary perspective because they would have to have come after the evolution of insects (which was after the evolution of plants). In my collection, I have several terrestrial Bladderworts (Utricularia).

Utricularia_vulgaris_Sturm63

These plants have one of the most complex yet sophisticated mechanisms in nature – a super fast sensitive trap. The bladders are vacuum-driven and are therefore under negative pressure in relation to the environment. When insects brush against the hairs connected to the trap door, they are sucked into the bladder. When the bladder is full of water, the trap door closes and the insect is trapped inside. The process takes about 10 thousandths of a second.

Image: Jakob Sturm’s “Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen”, Stuttgart (1796) [wikipedia]