Utricularia cornuta

Horned Bladderwort

Horned Bladderwort, Photo courtesy USDA Plants Database
Horned Bladderwort
Photo courtesy USDA Plants Database

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Utricularia, from the Latin, utricularius, "the master of a raft floated on bladders"
  • cornuta, from the Latin, cornutus, "horned"
  • Common name from from the prominent downward pointing spur on the flower
  • Other common names include: Leafless Bladderwort


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Asteridae
        • Order Scrophulariales, the
          • Family Lentibulariaceae, the Bladderworts
            • Genus Utricularia, the Bladderworts
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 34447
  • Also known as Stomoisia cornuta


  • An annual or perennial herb of wet places.
  • Leaves minute and thread-like, underground; seldom seen. Bear tiny, carnivorous bladders which trap and digest minute invertebrates.
  • Stem underground
  • Bladders small, deflated, pear-shaped pouches. Not air-filled or used for floatation, they open abruptly when trigger hairs are disturbed, sucking in water and any hapless aquatic creature responsible for setting off the trap. Digestive enzymes and bacteria in the bladder then digest the prey for the nutritional use of the plant, a process typically taking 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon the size of the catch. When digestion is complete, special cells extract the nutrient-rich water from the bladder into the stem, thereby restoring the vaccuum and resetting the trap for its next victim.
  • Roots with tiny bladders attached, which trap and digest small intertebrates.
  • Flowers yellow, fragrant, perfect, irregular in form, rather resembling a snapdragon; about ¾" long, usually 1-6 atop a brownish, upright stalk 4"-10" tall. Lower lip large and pendant, with prominent, downward pointing spur, ¼"-½" long. [Photo]
    • Sepals 2-5
    • Petals 5, united to form upper and lower lips
    • Stamens 2
    • Ovary superior (within blossom)
  • Fruit a single chamber, rounded capsule, with central column bearing many seeds.


  • Identifiable as a Bladderwort by its flower and distinctive bladders
    • Distinguished from other North Country bladderworts by:
    • Absence of visible leaves
    • Terrestrial habitat (wet soil but not freely floating in water)


  • Newfoundland and Quebec to Michigan and Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas.
  • Also the West Indies.


  • Acid lakes, sandy or muddy shores, peatlands. [Photo]


  • Ground Covers: Sphagnum Mosses (Sphagnum spp.)



  • A distinctive, if difficult, native for the watergarden.


  • Sexually by seed
    • Insect pollinated
    • Flowers June-September
  • Asexually by budding


  • By seed


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Not generally available commercially.



  • The bladderworts are the only predatory aquatic plants in the US.

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Last updated on 26 February, 2004