PINGUICULA – Butterwort

PINGUICULA - Butterwort

     Butterworts or belongs to the bladderwort family, Utriculariaceae. The genus contains approx. 96 species, of which 13 in Europe, of which 3 in Scandinavia. The majority of the species grow in Central and South America. The genus is circumpolar, with the species known in Denmark, Pinguicula vulgaris, as a good example. In Scandinavia there are two other species. P. alpina, is the same size as P. vulgaris, but the flowers are white. P. villosa, is a fairly rare species with only approx. 1 cm long leaves and light violet flowers with yellow lines on the lip. It is found especially among peat mosses. Buttercups are perennial rosette plants, and many species form a summer and a winter rosette, where only the leaves of the summer rosette are equipped to catch and digest insects and other small animals, while the leaves of the winter rosette act as storage organs. Another group, to which P. vulgaris belongs, develops a winter bud while the summer leaves die, while a 3rd group has the same leaf type all year round. All butterworts have photosynthesis like all other carnivorous plants. The five genera of the bladderworth family (Utriculariaceae = Lentibulariaceae) have developed a total of three different types of traps, fly paper, mousetraps and eel traps. It is an example of an incredibly diverse evolution of the same plant organ, the leaf.

Click on the images below and get details on species, flowers, life cycle, ecology, capture method and digestion.

Pinguicula species

Trap structure and function


Flower and fruit

H. S. Heide-Jørgensen, Nov. 2020. Translated Jan. 2024.

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