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Title: Aldrovanda  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Droseraceae, Aldrovanda vesiculosa, WikiProject Carnivorous plants/Grading, Palaeoaldrovanda, Saxonipollis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Temporal range: Paleocene - Recent
Aldrovanda vesiculosa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Droseraceae
Genus: Aldrovanda
  • Drosera aldrovanda F.Muell., superfluous name
  • Aldrovanda verticillata Roxb.
  • Aldrovanda generalis E.H.L.Krause

Aldrovanda is a genus of carnivorous plants encompassing one extant species (Aldrovanda vesiculosa, the waterwheel plant) and numerous extinct taxa. The genus is named in honor of the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi, the founder of the Botanical Garden of Bologna, Orto Botanico dell'Università di Bologna.[2] Aldrovanda vesiculosa has been reported from scattered locations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.[1][3][4][5]


  • Description 1
    • Trap mechanism 1.1
  • Extinct relatives 2
  • Evolution 3
  • Species 4
  • References 5


The waterwheel is a small, free floating and rootless aquatic plant, with a length of about 1.5 to 20 cm, and whorls of about 1 – 2 cm in diameter.[6] At every 3 – 4 cm the plant branches, sometimes forming offshoots. An average of 12 to 19 whorls spans the length of the plant, each with about 5 to 9 leaves, each up to 11 mm long. The growth is faster than terrestrial carnivorous plants, sometimes growing about 0.4 to 0.9 cm a day.

In temperate regions the plant goes dormant in the winter, forming turions of about 4 - 6mm and sinking to the bottom. In tropical regions, the plant grows all year long without forming turions. The plant flourishes and produces seeds only in these warmer regions, with temperatures higher than 25°C, and produces only one flower, white or light pink, that arises above the surface. In temperate regions, the plant reproduces mostly via asexual means, producing inviable seeds or no flower at all.

The leaf structure is very similar to the Dionaea, the main difference being air chambers present in the "stem". The traps, at the end of the leaf, contains up to 6 bristles, analog to the Dionaea teeths, that prevents debris from activating the trap. Each trap contains additional 60 - 80 smaller "teeth", and circa 30 - 40 trigger hairs inside. The speed of closing is about 0.01 to 0.02 seconds.

Trap mechanism

The trap mechanism is akin to that present in Dionaea - Darwin even named it "the miniature aquatic Dionaea". The mechanism by which the trap snaps shut involves a complex interaction between elasticity, turgor and growth. In the open, untripped state, the lobes are convex (bent outwards), but in the closed state, the lobes are concave (forming a cavity). It is the rapid flipping of this bistable state that closes the trap, but the mechanism by which this occurs is still poorly understood. When the trigger hairs are stimulated, an action potential (mostly involving calcium ions—see calcium in biology) is generated, which propagates across the lobes and stimulates cells in the lobes and in the midrib between them.[7]

Extinct relatives

The extinct species are known only from fossil pollen and seeds,[8] with the exception of A. inopinata, which is also known from fossilised laminae.[9] Aldrovanda was for a long time thought to be related to the Late Cretaceous form taxon Palaeoaldrovanda splendens, but research published in 2010 suggests that remains attributed to Palaeoaldrovanda actually represent fossilised insect eggs.[10][11]


The organ of carnivory in Aldrovanda is the snap trap. Snap traps are only found in one other carnivorous plant genus, Dionaea, which comprises the commonly known Venus flytrap. Aldrovanda and Dionaea have been shown to share a most recent common ancestor by analysis of combined nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequences.[12][13] When sequences of chloroplast DNA of Aldrovanda, Dionaea, and Drosera were analyzed alone, however, Aldrovanda and Drosera (sundews) were shown to share a most recent common ancestor.[14] It has been proposed that this discrepancy between gene trees based on nuclear and cytoplasmic DNA analyses can be explained by chloroplast capture,[14] as similar inconsistencies have been explained by this phenomenon.[15][16]


  • Aldrovanda borysthenica
  • Aldrovanda clavata
  • Aldrovanda dokturovskyi
  • Aldrovanda eleanorae
  • Aldrovanda europaea
  • Aldrovanda inopinata
  • Aldrovanda intermedia
  • Aldrovanda kuprianovae
  • Aldrovanda megalopolitana
  • Aldrovanda nana
  • Aldrovanda ovata
  • Aldrovanda praevesiculosa
  • Aldrovanda rugosa
  • Aldrovanda sibirica
  • Aldrovanda sobolevii
  • Aldrovanda unica
  • Aldrovanda vesiculosa
  • Aldrovanda zussii

Several undescribed species are also known.

The distinctions between the various named species have been criticised,[17] although SEM analysis of the seed structures seems to confirm the existence of different species.[18]


  1. ^ a b Aldrovanda vesiculosaKew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families,
  2. ^ Genaust, Helmut (1976). Etymologisches Wörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen ISBN 3-7643-0755-2
  3. ^ Lee, B.C. (2009). Rare plants data book of Korea: 1-296. Korea National Arboretum
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 281. 1753.Aldrovanda he zao shu 貉藻属Flora of China Vol. 8 Page 201
  5. ^ L.Aldrovanda vesiculosaAltervista Flora Italiana, includes line drawing plus a European distribution map
  6. ^ "CPN Samples". International Carnivorous Plant Society. 1997. 
  7. ^ Hodick, Dieter; Sievers, Andreas (1989). Ellis"Dionaea muscipula"The action potential of . Planta 174 (1): 8–18.  
  8. ^ Degreef, J.D. 1997. .AldrovandaFossil  PDF Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 26(3): 93–97.
  9. ^ Schlauer, J. 1997. — additions.AldrovandaFossil  PDF Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 26(3): 98.
  10. ^ Heřmanová, Z. & J. Kvaček 2010. , not seeds of a carnivorous plant, but eggs of an insectPalaeoaldrovandaLate Cretaceous . Journal of the National Museum (Prague), Natural History Series, 179(9): 105–118.
  11. ^ Schlauer, J. 2012. Literature reviews. Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 41(3): 121.
  12. ^ Cameron, K.M., K.J. Wurdack, and R.W. Jobson. 2002. Molecular evidence for the common origin of snap-traps among carnivorous plants. American Journal of Botany 89: 1503–1509.
  13. ^ Rivadavia, F., K. Kondo, M. Kato, and M. Hasebe. 2003. Phylogeny of the sundews, Drosera (Droseraceae) based on chloroplast rbcL and nuclear 18S ribosomal DNA sequences. American Journal of Botony 90: 123–130.
  14. ^ a b Elansary, H.O.M., L. Adamec, and H. Storchova. 2010. Uniformity of organellar DNA in Aldrovanda vesiculosa, an endangered aquatic carnivorous species, distributed across four continents. Aquatic Botany 92: 214–220.
  15. ^ Tsitrone, A., M. Kirkpatrick, and D.A. Levin. 2003. A model for chloroplast capture. Evolution 57: 1776–1782.
  16. ^ Gaskin, J.F. and L.M. Wilson. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships among native and naturalized Hieracium (Asteraceae) in Canada and the United States based on plastid DNA sequences. Systematic Botany 32: 478–485.
  17. ^ Friis, E.-M. 1980. Microcarpological Studies of Middle Miocene Floras of Western Denmark. Ph.D. Thesis, Aarhus Universitet, 183-186.
  18. ^ Iakubovskaya, T.V. 1991. Rod Aldrovanda (Droseraceae) v Plieistotsenie Bielorussii. Bot. Zhurnal 76(1): 109-118.

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