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Pale Bladderwort

Utricularia ochroleuca

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Ponds, water.

Yellow, 2 petals
Small, pale yellow flowers, up to 14mm across. The lower lip has downturned edges. The spur is up to 4mm long.
Very rarely seen.
The floating stems have green leaves and a few bladders. The underwater stems have some non-green leaves and numerous bladders. The bladders are organs which trap insects in order for the plant to feed. This plant is carnivorous. Perennial, aquatic.
Other Names:
Cream-flowered Bladderwort, Northern Bladderwort, Yellow Bladderwort, Yellowishwhite Bladderwort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Utricularia ochroleuca, also known as pale bladderwort or yellow 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. ochroleuca 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. ochroleuca is a protected species in some areas and may not be collected or removed from the wild without permission.


Pale Bladderwort (Utricularia ochroleuca) is a unique and fascinating species of carnivorous plant found in various parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. As a member of the bladderwort family, U. ochroleuca is known for its use of bladder-like structures to capture small aquatic prey such as water fleas and other small aquatic insects.

The plant is a submergent or floating aquatic species that is easy to recognize due to its pale yellow to yellowish-green leaves and stems, which are usually less than 30 cm in length. The leaves are simple and lack any noticeable veins, giving them a translucent appearance.

What makes U. ochroleuca truly unique is its feeding mechanism. The plant's bladders are modified to act as miniature underwater traps, equipped with a door-like mechanism that opens and closes in response to the movements of small prey. When a prey item brushes against the trigger hairs on the bladder's entrance, the door snaps shut, trapping the prey inside. The plant then secretes digestive enzymes into the bladder to break down the trapped prey, providing it with the necessary nutrients to grow and thrive.

In addition to its unique feeding mechanism, U. ochroleuca is also known for its beautiful and delicate flowers. The flowers are yellow or white and are held above the water on slender stalks, making them easy to spot. They are typically in bloom from mid-summer to early autumn.

Cultivating U. ochroleuca is relatively simple, as it prefers still or slow-moving bodies of water, such as ponds, bogs, or streams. The plant can be grown in either full sun or partial shade and prefers a neutral to acidic water pH.

U. ochroleuca is also an important species for wetland conservation and preservation. As a submerged aquatic species, it is typically found in areas with high water quality, and its presence can be used as an indicator of a healthy wetland ecosystem. In some parts of the world, U. ochroleuca and other bladderwort species are threatened by habitat destruction and degradation, making it important to protect and conserve these habitats.

It's also worth mentioning that U. ochroleuca is not only interesting from a biological and ecological perspective, but also from a cultural and historical one. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, U. ochroleuca was used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory and digestive problems. In the past, it was also used as a food source in some cultures, with its leaves and stems being consumed either raw or cooked.

Another aspect to consider about U. ochroleuca is its role as a bio-indicator species. As mentioned earlier, the presence of this species in a wetland environment can indicate a healthy ecosystem, with high water quality and suitable conditions for other aquatic species to thrive. The fact that U. ochroleuca is a carnivorous species also means that it can act as an indicator of the presence of other small aquatic prey species, such as water fleas, that form the base of the food chain in these environments.

It's also important to note that U. ochroleuca is a part of the larger bladderwort family, which consists of over 220 species found all over the world. While U. ochroleuca is a relatively common species, many other bladderwort species are rare and threatened, making them of great conservation concern. The bladderwort family is also one of the oldest families of carnivorous plants, with a fossil record dating back over 50 million years, making it an important part of the earth's evolutionary history.

In addition, the unique biology and ecology of U. ochroleuca and other bladderwort species make them an important area of scientific research. Scientists are still learning about the intricate details of their feeding mechanisms, reproduction, and adaptation to their aquatic environments, and new discoveries are being made all the time. This ongoing research helps to deepen our understanding of these fascinating plants and the important role they play in the ecosystems they inhabit.

In conclusion, U. ochroleuca is a species that offers much to explore, from its unique biology and ecology, to its cultural and historical significance, and its role as a bio-indicator species. Whether you are a botanist, ecologist, hobbyist, or just someone who appreciates the beauty and diversity of the natural world, U. ochroleuca is a species that is well worth learning more about.