Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Swollen Bladderwort

Utricularia inflata

also known as Inflated Bladderwort, 
or Large Floating Bladderwort

Photographs by Lynn Cremona

The plants that I write about are plants Homeopathic remedies are made from.

This plant, Utricularia inflata has not been made into a remedy……..yet!  I hope to conduct a "Proving" of this remedy in the near future.  Please refer to an earlier  article in this Blog, "You Ask What is Homeopathy ?",  dated July 22, 2012  for a definition of a "Proving"

I found this plant so fascinating, I just had to share it with you.

I came upon it on one of my hikes in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, as I was exploring and looking for plants included in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia.
Bladderworts are insectivorous/carnivorous plants with delicate, finely-divided underwater leaves and emergent snapdragon-like yellow flowers. They do not have true leaves or roots, instead they have green, highly branched, finely divided underwater leaf-like stems with small seed-like bladders. The submerged vegetation is dense and bushy.

Swollen Bladderwort has a distinctive spoke-like whorl of 4 to 10 wedge-shaped floating leaves, 4 to 9 cm long (referred to as a Float).  This raft of leaves supports the flower stalk and with its Yellow, Snapdragon-like flowers that sit at the end of a stalk which extends about five inches above the water's surface.

The "Float" with its flower develops underwater, and as the flower prepares to open, the float begins its ascent to the surface of the water. The flowers open underwater and then emerge above the waterline.

The most distinctive underwater features are the small bladder-like traps (above photo on the right).  Bladderworts capture tiny invertebrates in 1-3 millimeter-long traps, or bladders, hence the name, bladder (traps) and wort (a Middle English word for plant), submerged under water. When their prey touch the bladders, a trap door is sprung creating a vacuum that sucks the prey into the bladder. Enzymes produced by the plant then digest the prey.

Utricularia is the largest genus of carnivorous plants with more than 220 species that occur throughout the world. The Latin genus name, Utricularia,  refers to the fact that the plant is adorned with utricles, or little bag-like bladders.

Principally found in eastern North American clear freshwater wetlands, but can survive in muddy situations if the water dries up. The only habitat they do not survive in is brackish to marine environments. The photos were taken at Well's Mill Lake, in the Pine Barren's of New Jersey.

Here is a high speed video recording of the plant swallowing its prey in less than a millisecond!

Good Health,
© Lynn Cremona 2013, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Devil's Bit - Chamaelirium luteum

Trekking Through The N.J. Pine Barrens

The New Jersey Pine Barrens, locally known as the Pinelands, are a very special contiguous environment extending from central to southern New Jersey. It is the largest area of interconnected, undeveloped forest and wetland on the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the Mid-Atlantic region. The Pinelands, the largest pine barrens complex in the world, is home to rare upland and wetland plants as well as a diverse variety of insects and animals. A number of the plants are included on the USDA Threatened And Endangered Plant List (  The Pinelands is also the home of  the 17 trillion gallon Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer one of the largest aquifers in the country.

I have had a lifelong love affair of many of New Jersey’s wild places.  One of the most densely populated states in the nation, hardly thought of as being home to "the wild", New Jersey is a remarkable state with  species of flora and fauna, and beautiful land and seascapes.  The Pinelands hold a special place in my heart.  When I decided to start making the Pinelands a regular destination, it was with the idea of seeing the home and context of many of the plants that homeopathic remedies are made from. I have not been disappointed. The uniqueness of the Pinelands bogs, streams, plant and animal life fills me with a sense of wonder.  Over the years I have shared my interest in the Pine Barrens with  a number of  people, to find that many of them had no idea of the existence, no less the expanse, diversity or importance of this special place.    

The Pinelands are protected  by Governor Brendan Byrne's executive order of 1979,  The Pinelands Protection Act, which was largely inspired by John McPhee's book 'The Pine Barrens'.  Continuous attempts by commercial interests  over the years to build within the Pine Barrens and by so doing threaten its existence, as we know it, serves as a constant reminder for us to stay vigilant and insure that this very special and vulnerable land does not fall into the hands of those who value commerce over its preservation.

 So, with a number of printed field guides in my backpack and the studies of a number of Pineland's naturalists and botanists, past and present, in my notebooks, I invite you to put on your virtual hiking boots, join me and prepare yourself  to become as passionate as I am about a true treasure, The New Jersey Pinelands . 

Photo on left is the male plant.
Photo on the right is the female plant.
Photographs by Lynn Cremona

Chamaelirium luteum
old Latin names: Helonias dioica, and Veratrum luteum
Common names - Colicwort, Blazing-Star, Devil's Bit, False Unicorn, Fairy Wand, Angel's Wand

It is included in the USDA Threatened And Endangered Plant List

Flowers late May to Mid June
Basal rosette of broad light green leaves with single dioecious (meaning that it has distinct male and female flowers) 12" flowering stalk  with very small white to greenish tubular flowers.

The female plants can grow up to 4 feet tall, the males grow half that size. The longer male spike emerges first, but dies back after flowering. The female spike may last for 2-3 years.  Male plants tend to be far more numerous than female plants.

The root contains, chamealirin, a steroidal saponin and the saponins heloside. 

Legend has it that the name Devil's Bit (Morsus Diaboli) describes the root which looks like it was bitten off.  It is said the Devil, out of envy of humanity, bit it off in hopes it would no longer be of benefit for anyone. The botanical description for this kind of root that looks like it has been bitten off or terminated abruptly is a Premorse Root. Premorse from the Latin praemorsus/praemordere to bite off; prae before + mordere to bite.  There are many plants that are know by the common name Devil's Bit.  As you can see this plant is also known by a number of common names, which is why it is important to identify and differentiate plants by using their Latin names.

Native American women used C. luteum to prevent miscarriages. They also used the herb for colic, worms and fevers, and learned through experience that chewing the root would ease coughing (Charles E. Millspaugh, 1974).

Found in open areas with moderate supply of moisture, rich hardwood forests or wet meadows, bogs, thickets and open fields. A woodland perennial in the Lily Family. 

Helonias dioica is a remedy made from the root of this plant.  It is used in homeopathy predominantly for women, who are exhausted by frequent pregnancies, or miscarriages. Women with prolapse from uterine weakness with a sensitiveness expressed as a consciousness of the womb. For those worn out with hard work, sleepless with strained muscles that burn and ache, especially of the back muscles. Sensation of weakness, dragging and in the sacrum and pelvis with great languor and prostration.

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