Waterwheel Plant Facts
- The Waterwheel Plant serves as the common name for the rather remarkable Aldrovanda Vesiculosa. It remains a truly extraordinary carnivorous plant.
- Genetically, this rather surprising species actually holds appears to be related to the Venus Flytrap. This plant species, however, is aquatic and entirely free-floating.
- The name derives from the fact that the whorls are around a central, free-floating stem. Despite its aquatic nature, it represents one of the few carnivorous plants capable of rapid movement.
Waterwheel Plant Physical Description
The rather fascinating Waterwheel Plant has a physical appearance distinct from other carnivorous plants. Given its aquatic nature, this does not surprise scientists. However, some things about the species do.
This greenish, rootless aquatic plant actually consists of free-floating stems. These sometimes attain a length of as much as 16 in (40 cm). However, most remain much smaller.
The trap itself also develops quite small. It averages a width of only 0.12 in (3 mm). These grow in whorls numbering between 5 – 9 in a close grouping along the stem.
The underwater traps actually consist of two separate lobes, lined with fine hairs. These trigger the trapping reflex upon touch. The plant feeds on small aquatic invertebrates. When activated, the traps close within 10-20 milliseconds.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Droceraceae
- Genus: Aldrovanda
- Species: A. vesiculosa
Waterwheel Plant Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The remarkable Waterwheel Plant actually forms the most widely distributed of all known carnivorous plants.
However, its population has also declined rather severely over the last century to only 50 confirmed existent populations worldwide.
It also spreads mainly through the movement of waterfowl. Plants sticking to the feet of a bird make it to the next aquatic destination on the bird’s route.
As a result, most Waterwheel Plant populations live along bird migratory routes.
Throughout the last century, the species has also become increasingly rare, listed unfortunately as extinct in an increasingly large number of countries.