Elusive Wildflowers Part 7 – Horned Bladderwort
Another one that isn’t so much elusive, as limited in photographic potential.
It’s limited in a few ways. First it lives in bogs and fens which are relatively rare habitats made rarer by man’s manic need to fill in wetlands and build subdivisions on them. If you live in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee or Illinois the flower is endangered or threatened and you may never see one there unless you are very lucky. Second limiting factor is that a lot of bogs are just plain inaccessible without stilts. The peat and heath matting is very deep, totally soaked and difficult to travel through. Luckily Ponemah bog has a decent walkway that passes right by some of these beauties and with some creative positioning (and knee pain) I could shoot them.
A bit more research turned up the fact that they are carnivorous. No wonder they do well in bogs which are notoriously too low in nutrient levels for most plants. I also photographed a couple other carnivorous plants the other day, but I’ll save those for later. Horned bladderwort doesn’t use sticky traps or funnels of death to catch its prey. This little flower uses its leaves which have been specially adapted with bladders that suck tiny organisms up into them to be digested. The leaves are spindly and are almost always under ground, leaving only the stem and flowers on the surface.
The shape of the flowers is pretty interesting and they seem to be a favorite of the local spiders. All these images were shot with the OM 90mm macro. Because of the boardwalk, photographic compositions are limited, but with some contortions and gentle bending out of the way of distracting elements, I got a few that are pretty good. The backlit and sunlit shots just didn’t work well since the backgrounds also tended to be lit up and the flowers got lost in them. The pink of the orchids in the last bog series stood out much more because of the color contrast.
In the next few days I’ll also put up some shots of the bog itself at dawn. This last trip I spent some time shooting landscapes and slices of landscapes that really depict the fullness and richness of the ecosystem. I even saw wet little fox footprints on part of the walkway, so there’s a lot of life there that goes unseen.