Herbarium in the News-Carnivorous Plants

November 15th, 2010  |  Published in Uncategorized

K-State media relations recently published a short release on the herbarium pertaining to its collections of carnivorous plants. The herbarium does contain many specimens of different families of carnivorous plants representing many different modes of capture. Even so, these are a very small fraction of the total collection. Out of a total of over 150,000 specimens of dried and preserved plants representing more than 6,000 species, there are between about 150-200 specimens of carnivorous plants in the herbarium, many of which are not from Kansas. Typically, these grow in water, and often areas where nitrogen is not available due to high acidity of the environs. In Kansas, our wetlands are generally more basic and/or occur in areas with long freezing winters–conditions not favorable for most carnivorous plants.

More on Kansas’ carnivorous plants

Utricularia gibba specimen in the KSC Herbarium

Utricularia macrorhiza specimen in the KSC Herbarium

Kansas’ only carnivorous type of plant is the Bladderwort (Utricularia sp.) of which there are two species in the state. Using the databases available from our collection and the one for the herbarium at the University of Kansas, it is easily determined that one of these species (Common Bladderwort or Utricularia macrorhiza) was found by early botanists on central Kansas’ natural wetlands when botanists began exploring these regions in detail in the late 1800s. Interestingly, the only other species of bladderwort (Humped — Utricularia gibba) in Kansas was not and collected here by botanists until the 1940’s, when it was collected by Ron McGregor from sandhill depressions in Harvey County, Kansas. Despite Hitchcock’s extensive collections in southeastern Kansas, the latter wasn’t collected by him there even though it is now well documented from the strip mined land in southeastern KS in recent times.

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