Utricularia longifolia – a large flowered tropical bladderwort

Protologue for Utricularia longifolia from the London Journal of Botany, Vol.1 p 545 (1842)

Protologue for Utricularia longifolia from the London Journal of Botany, Vol.1 p 545 (1842)

Utricularia longifolia Gardner was described from Pedra Bonita some 50 km north of Rio De Janeiro in the London Journal of Botany in 1842 in an article on the Flora of Brasil.  The page describing the species can be seen online.  It is a large flowered species growing on rocks among Sphagnum or rarely among grasses. Peter Taylor, in his monograph on Utricularia, describes the leaves as sometimes over 1 metre long and 4.5cm wide however I have never seen such large leaved specimens in cultivation.  The material we are cultivating has leaves about 10-20cm long but does seem to flower fairly freely.

Flowers of Utricularia longifolia

Flowers of Utricularia longifolia in the glasshouse at Reading University

Distribution for Utricularia longifolia based on data from CRIA.

Distribution for Utricularia longifolia based on data from CRIA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area of distribution of this species is in the Mata Atlantica (Atlantic Forest), one of the most endangered habitats in the world. Over 90% of this forest has been lost, and what is left is quite fragmented.  The Mata Atlantica was used as a source of timber in the 1500s and later the land used for grazing beef cattle, coffee and sugar plantations.  Urbanisation has further reduced the forest.

Utricularia longifolia is one of the easier tropical bladderworts to grow tolerating a range of different substrates.  Currently it is growing in a mix of perlite, peat, seramis and sand to provide the free drainage the species likes.  It is one of several Utricularia species we will be growing.  The entire genus is able to capture animals using small suction traps.  Most of the animals caught are small invertebrates that live in soil water films.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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