Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Eastern Purple Bladderwort - Utricularia purpurea   Walter
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Section 6 » Order Scrophulariales » Family Lentibulariaceae
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AuthorWalter
DistributionRestricted to the Coastal Plain, as are nearly all bladderworts. Found primarily in the southern half of the province, including the Sandhills, though lacking records from a few counties in the center of this Coastal Plain range, including heavily worked Onslow County. Only a few records from the northern Coastal Plain, even though the species occurs far to the north of NC.

This is an Eastern species ranging over southeastern Canada south to southern FL and eastern TX. However, between the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coastal Plain there are very few records, and it seems to be absent from OH, WV, KY, and TN.
AbundanceInfrequent to locally common in a zone from the Sandhills southeast to Pender and Brunswick counties. Farther north it is mostly very rare to rare except in the Croatan National Forest area of Craven and Carteret counties, where probably uncommon.
HabitatThis is a species growing in shallow, slow-moving fresh water, in ponds, wet ditches, and pools.
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Herbaceous Ponds and Sloughs
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is the primary pink-flowered bladderwort in the state, as the other -- U. resupinata -- is very rare. It has the fibrous, highly branched leaves growing underwater, as with most bladderworts, so it is that portion of the plant growing above the water surface that is useful for identification. The very slender scape, generally just 3-4" above the water, has 1-4 small flowers at the top. Each flower is roughly 1/3" long, and pink to rose-pink. Though an observer could easily walk past a single plant in bloom owing to its very small size, thankfully this species (and many other bladderworts) typically grows in extensive colonies, covering many square yards. A pond or pool covered in these soft pink flowers is always a memorable sight in a day of field work in the Coastal Plain. U. resupinata is known in NC only from the shorelines of a few large natural lakes (Phelps and Waccamaw), where it grows rooted in muck or mud in the barest minimum of water. It has essentially just one tiny pink flower on each short and slender stalk, and these flowers are tilted "backward", such that the flower faces straight up, with the short spur being horizontal. These features may need to be seen in a hand lens or binoculars! (U. purpurea has a sac-like or pouch-like lower lip, and its roots/leaves float in the water and are not rooted in mud.)
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Purple Bladderwort, Purple-flowered Bladderwort
State RankS3? [S3]
Global RankG5
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