Utricularia Botanical Paintings

Modern microscopy techniques enable us to capture the shape and inner beauty of the leaf traps of carnivorous plants. These plants have intrigued people for many years. It is fascinating to discover sinister plants which eat animals, when you only expect plants to be food. Collectors and explorers documented animal eating plants over the last few centuries to spread information of newly discovered species and pose questions about how and why these plants captured insects. The John Innes Centre Historical Collection contains a special collection of rare books with botanical paintings and drawings documenting the history of Botany and plant research. These stunning antique prints were found in this archive mostly in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

Utricularia intermedia from Sowerby’s English botany, plate 2489 (1813) shows a whole plant of the aquatic Utricularia intermedia from Europe, North America and Asia. Bladders float on stolons. Yellow snapdragon like flowers are carried on a stem rising above the water surface.
Utricularia longifolia from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 8516 (1913) shows an epiphytic bladderwort from Brazil with bladder traps growing at the base of the plant and pink orchid like flowers growing on a tall inflorescence.
Utricularia bifida from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 6689 (1883). A terrestrial bladderwort with Snapdragon or Toadflax like flowers. Bladders grow below ground. Utricularia bifida is found in the damp soil and paddy fields of Asia and Oceania
Utricularia montana from Curtis’s botanical magazine, plate 5923 (1871). An epiphytic bladderwort found in South America and the Antilles with bladders (not shown) found at the base of the plant and showy white flowers.