Aldrovanda

Scientific name

Aldrovanda L.

Common names

waterwheel plant

Family

Droseraceae

Could be confused with

CeratophyllumUtricularia

Native distribution

Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe

Species commonly cultivated

Aldrovanda vesiculosa L. (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe)

Adventive distribution

information not available

Weed status

not weedy, threatened

Habit

rootless stem plant floating just beneath water surface

Brief description

Perennial, rootless, free floating just beneath water surface. Stems irregularly branched. Leaves caulescent, in compact whorls of 6-9, sessile, cuneate basally, terminating in 4-6 filaments and a subapical orbicular lobe; lobe hinged along midline, its two halves close rapidly to trap prey. Inflorescence a solitary bisexual flower borne on a short axillary pedicel, opening above water surface. Flower with 5 sepals and 5 white petals. Dispersal by seeds, resting-stage turions (modified apical buds) or stem fragments.

Natural habitat

still waters such as lakes, ponds, and swamps

Additional comments

This genus contains a single species, Aldrovanda vesiculosa. An aquatic carnivore, Aldrovanda is closely related to the venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), with the traps on Aldrovanda used to capture aquatic invertebrates. Aldrovanda is either extinct or seriously threatened in many areas of its distribution due to disturbance and pollution through eutrophication. Efforts are being made to reintroduce this plant to many regions where it is now extinct. Plants in Europe show distinct differences in morphology and abiotic preferences from Asian and Australian plants; European plants are distinctly yellow-green and prefers a temperate climate, while Asian and Australian plants are typically red and are mostly found in subtropical to tropical regions. These differences clearly represent different populations and may be grounds for separation into different species.