Utricularia helix Species Profile

Utricularia helix Species Profile

Utricularia helix is a bladderwort name for its spiralling flower scape. The species is endemic to the Cape Le Grand region near Esperance in Western Australia.

Utricularia helix is a small bladderwort with flowers around half a centimeter in width. The lower corolla lip is purple with three shallow lobes at the extremity. The palate has a set of yellow ridges surrounded by shallow purple ones. The upper corolla lip is purple at the edge and yellow towards the base, with a notch at the center. The spur is short and thrust forwards, broad at the base and rounded towards the end. The flower scape extends from the rosette until it reaches surrounding sedges, after which it tightly coils upwards along the sedge. Each scape can bear a few flowers in sequence. The stolons of the plant are grassy and extend above the substrate from a central rosette. A trap is borne at the end of each stolon.

The species grows aquatically in shallow swamps in the coastal dune wetlands of Cape Le Grand, east of Esperance. These swamps are filled in the cooler months with ankle deep water, which recedes towards November. Flowering is induced when the water recedes, with blooming beginning as the plants are exposed to air. I observed a single population blooming in mid October, although the main flowering period starts in November.

Utricularia helix is distinguished from all other bladderworts of southern Western Australia by its small size and twining peduncle. Utricularia volubilis also has a twining peduncle but is many times larger in size and has an flaring lower corolla lip with an entire margin.

Utricularia helix (left) and Utricularia westonii (right)
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