About CPs
The Genus Aldrovanda
Aldrovanda vesiculosa
Aldrovanda water wheel
Aldrovanda vesiculosa "water wheel"

Aldrovanda is a free-floating and rootless aquatic plant. This plant is closely related to the Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula, and shares many of its attributes--it functions as a snap-trap carnivore, just under water! A common name for it is the waterwheel plant because a single whorl of leaves, cut from a stem, is wheel-like, as you can see to the right! The genus name commemorates the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). In fact, the name for the genus was originally "Aldrovandia", but Linnaeus misspelled this, and we use the incorrect spelling even today.

Each Aldrovanda leaf in a whorl terminates in a little clam-like trap. Exactly how the trap captures prey is a little complicated. Just like the traps of a Venus flytrap, the trap lobes of Aldrovanda contain trigger hairs. When stimulated, these cause the traps to close. SNAP! The closure takes about 1/4 to 1/2 second, which is impressive when you reflect upon the fact that the trap lobes must push water as they close. If no prey is captured, the trap reopens in ten to twenty hours.

The strange snapping behavior of Aldrovanda was observed by De Sassus as early as 1861, but it was not until Darwin's careful work was there proof it was probably carnivorous. We now know that indeed, the traps produce phosphate-digesting enzymes, and that traps fed with radioisotope-labeled Daphnia absorb the prey.

Four different infraspecific names have been given to the one species in this genus:

Aldrovanda vesiculosa
Aldrovanda vesiculosa
var. australis
Aldrovanda vesiculosa
var. duriaei
Aldrovanda vesiculosa
var. verticillata

Read more about Aldrovanda at the ICPS sarracenia.com FAQ

-- Barry Rice

Aldrovanda information in the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter:

Haberlandt, Gottlieb (from Sinnesorgane Im Pflanzenreich, Trans. By Carla R. Powell) (1981) Insectivores: Aldrovanda vesiculosa. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 10(3):73,76-79,83 ( )

Haberlandt, Gottlieb (from Sinnesorgane Im Pflanzenreich, Trans. By Carla R. Powell) (1981) Insectivores: Aldrovanda vesiculosa. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 10(4):89,92-93 ( )

Degreef, John D. (1988) The Evolution of Aldrovanda and Dionaea Traps. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 17(4):119-125 ( )

Williams, S. E. (1992) Mechanisms of trap movement II: Does Aldrovanda close by a turgor mechanism? A question of how much, where, and when. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 21(3):46-51 ( )

Breckpot, Christian (1997) Aldrovanda vesiculosa: Description, Ecology, and Cultivation. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 26(3):73-82 ( )

Darnowski, Douglas W. (2002) A Method for Growing Aldrovanda. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 31(4):113-115 ( )

Adamec, Lubomir (1999) The biology and cultivation of red australian Aldrovanda vesiculosa. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 28(4):128-132 ( )

Gibson, Robert (2004) Red Aldrovanda from near Esperance, Western Australia. Carniv. Pl. Newslett. 33(4):119-121 ( )

Search the CPN Index and Archive for over 75 articles about Aldrovanda.

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