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Nordic Bladderwort

Utricularia stygia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, ponds, swamps, water, wetland.

Yellow, 2 petals
Small pale yellow flowers, similar looking to Snapdragon flowers.
A globular capsule.
An aquatic carnivorous plant, often tinged red.
Other Names:
Arctic Bladderwort, Lesser Bladderwort, Stygian Bladderwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Utricularia stygia, also known as lesser bladderwort or Stygian bladderwort, is a small, carnivorous aquatic plant that is native to North and Central America. It is a member of the Lentibulariaceae family and is known for its small, bladder-like structures that are used to trap and digest small aquatic animals, such as water fleas and protozoa. The plant has thin, delicate stems and small, yellow or purple flowers that are borne on long stalks above the water surface. It is a popular plant for aquaria and is often used in naturalized ponds or water gardens. U. stygia is a fast-growing plant that is easy to care for and is tolerant of a wide range of water conditions. It prefers full sun and can tolerate a wide range of pH levels. It is important to note that U. stygia is a protected species in some areas and may not be collected or removed from the wild without permission.


Nordic Bladderwort (Utricularia stygia) is a carnivorous plant species found in the northern hemisphere. This plant is unique in that it uses bladder-like structures to trap and digest small aquatic animals, making it a fascinating example of adaptation to its environment.

Utricularia stygia can be found in slow-moving freshwater habitats, such as bogs, marshes, and ponds. It has delicate, delicate leaves that float on the surface of the water and are covered in small, hairy appendages that give the plant its characteristic appearance.

The bladder traps of Utricularia stygia are formed from the modified leaves and are used to capture small aquatic insects, crustaceans, and other small creatures. The walls of the bladder are lined with sensitive hairs that are triggered by the movements of potential prey. When these hairs are stimulated, the bladder rapidly collapses, creating a vacuum that draws the prey inside. The walls of the bladder then release digestive enzymes to break down the captured prey and absorb the nutrients.

This carnivorous habit allows Utricularia stygia to thrive in nutrient-poor environments, where it would otherwise struggle to find enough food. Additionally, its ability to trap and digest small animals helps control the population of aquatic insects and other pests, making it a useful plant for maintaining a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Utricularia stygia is a hardy plant and can be found in a wide range of temperatures, from the coldest northern regions to the warmer southern climates. It is easy to care for and can be a fascinating addition to any water garden or aquarium. To propagate, simply separate the offsets or take cuttings of the stems and plant them in shallow water.

Aside from its unique feeding habits, Utricularia stygia is also known for its interesting blooms. The flowers of this species are small and delicate, ranging from yellow to violet in color. They emerge from the water's surface on long stems and are often described as being similar to small, snapdragon-like blooms.

The blooming period of Utricularia stygia varies depending on its location, but it typically takes place during the summer months. This is when the plant produces its small, delicate flowers, which are attractive to a range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and flies.

Another interesting aspect of this species is that it is considered a primitive carnivorous plant. Unlike other carnivorous plants, such as the Venus flytrap, Utricularia stygia lacks the ability to move its traps, relying instead on water pressure to capture its prey. This primitive characteristic, combined with its wide range of habitats, makes Utricularia stygia a valuable subject for scientific study.

In terms of conservation, Utricularia stygia is considered a common species and is not considered to be at risk of extinction. However, like all aquatic plants, it can be threatened by changes to its habitat, such as pollution, destruction of wetlands, and the introduction of non-native species. Conservation efforts, such as wetland restoration and the control of non-native species, can help to protect this unique and fascinating plant.

Utricularia stygia is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. In some cultures, it has been used to treat a range of ailments, including digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory issues.

However, it is important to note that Utricularia stygia should not be consumed in large quantities as it contains compounds that can be toxic to humans and other animals. The use of this plant for medicinal purposes should always be done under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Utricularia stygia has also been used for ornamental purposes. Its delicate leaves and distinctive appearance make it a popular plant for water gardens and aquariums. It is also commonly used in landscaping and can be found in parks and natural areas, where it adds a unique and attractive element to aquatic environments.

Utricularia stygia is also a popular subject for photography, and its delicate beauty and unique characteristics make it a favorite among photographers who specialize in capturing images of the natural world. Whether you are a nature lover, photographer, or just appreciate the beauty of the natural world, Utricularia stygia is sure to capture your imagination and leave a lasting impression.

In conclusion, Utricularia stygia is a fascinating plant with a wide range of uses and benefits. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, ornamental value, or simply appreciate its unique beauty, this plant is sure to provide a lifetime of enjoyment and discovery. With its hardiness and ease of care, it is a perfect choice for anyone interested in exploring the world of carnivorous plants.