Species spotlight: Utricularia multifida

Species spotlight: Utricularia multifida

Utricularia multifida is a terrestrial bladderwort endemic to Western Australia. The species is particularly known for its en mass displays of purple flowers, which emerge at the the end of winter.

A white variant of Utricularia multifida amongst a field of standard purple blooms. This mutation is not uncommon in Utricularia populations in the field. The plants were growing in moss along a water channel on a large granite outcrop in the South West region of Western Australia.

Like other members of the subgenus Polypompholyx (which was once regarded as a genus in its own right), the blooms of U. multifida have a lower corolla that is divided into three prominent lobes. These blooms are vivid pink with yellow ridges on the palate. The leaves are inconspicuous and the traps are subterranean.

The habitat of Utricularia multifida on a giant granite outcrop in the South West. This rock was so large it had its own water channels that coursed through its surface. The Utricularia occupied the wet moss along such channels. On smaller outcrops, the species usually occupies depressions in the rock surface.

The species can usually be found in seasonally wet habitats across south west Western Australia, especially depressions and channels atop granite outcrops, and the floodplains of swamps. This annual species races to mature within a single growing season, setting seed before the hot and dry summer desiccates its habitat.

A nice patch of Utricularia multifida growing alongside Drosera gigantea, macrantha and pallida. This niche was formed by a depression on a large granite outcrop, which is able to collect water. The wet-loving Utricularia and D. gigantea grow in the wettest area in the middle of the depression whereas D. macrantha and D. pallida grows on the moist loamy edges.
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