|Most books about carnivorous plants devote a chapter or two to Utricularia, but a true appreciation of the complexity and variety within the genus requires that one explore some of the more obscure and esoteric books on the subject. Although not usually stocked by your corner bookstore, a surprising number of these books are either still in print, or available through used book dealers.
The Genus Utricularia - A Taxonomic Monograph
by Peter Taylor
London:Royal Botanic Gardens, 1989. ISBN 0 947643 72 9
I believe that the genus Utricularia unique among the carnivorous plant genera in having a definitive monograph that is in print, written in English and reasonably current. This book is a masterpiece and is an essential component of any utricophile's library. Taylor spent forty years studying, collecting, analyzing and drawing Utricularia species and the result is a 724 page tome that exhaustively details all known species. The writing is a quite technical, as should be expected and only the most dedicated botanist would require all the information it provides. This being said, my copy is well-thumbed. I use it to confirm identifications, I admire the pictures and dream of growing some of the more obscure species, and I rush to it when new specimens begin to flower appear for a sneak preview. It also has a section that provides very good summary of habitat, distribution and morphology. Highly recommended, it is available from your favourite online and offline bookstores, as well as directly from Kew Botanical Gardens.
The Savage Garden
by Peter D'Amato
Berkley:Ten Speed Press, 1998. ISBN 0 89815 915 6
The publication of this book was much anticipated by English-speaking carnivorous plant growers everywhere. Prior to its release there were, essentially, no books about cultivation available in print, and those that were out of print were virtually unobtainable. The Savage Garden provides a very good introduction to carnivorous plant growing, detailing lighting, media, propagation, and descriptions of species and their requirements. It also has some great full colour photos of plants, including several of Utricularia species. Of course, Utricularia are so easy to grow that you don't really require a whole book to explain it and much of the best information about growing Utricularia is available on the web for free. But buy this book anyway - you're probably growing species besides Utricularia, and at US$19.95 it's a bargain at twice the price.
Carnivorous Plants of Australia, Vol. 3
by Allen Lowrie
Nedlands:U. of Western Australia, 1998. ISBN 1 875560 59 9
Lucky for Utricularia fans, Lowrie waited until his third volume to address our favourite genus, since copies of volumes one and two are currently selling for hundreds of US dollars. The book contains many firsthand descriptions and photographs of Utricularia in their natural habitat. Lowrie covers eighteen species, each with a page of line drawings and a page of excellent photographs. My only complaint is the rather disappointing absence of some of the most interesting species, such as U. leptoplectra; the four "antennae" utrics; U. capilliflora, U. antennifera, U. dunstaniae and U. dunlopii; or U. tubulata. Nevertheless, for the diehard Utricularia fan, this book is essential, and, judging by the current value of the preceding volumes, a good investment.
Bladderworts of India
by M.K. Janarthanam & A.N. Henry
Calcutta:Botanical Survey of India, 1992.
Never one to turn down a bargain, I couldn't resist purchasing this title. At US$14.40, including shipping, this 144 page book, covering 35 species native to India was too good a deal to pass up. The botanical line drawing are of excellent quality and it contains a variety of keys for identification based on several different characteristics, such as leaf, trap or seeds. Of course, there is some truth to the adage "you get what you pay for". The two pages of colour plates look as if they were printed with a carved potato, the paper quality is very poor, and the book just smells kind of funny. It is available online (and what isn't these days?) from Vedam's Books.
Insectivorous Plants of Khasi and Jainta Hills Meghalaya India (A Preliminary Survey)
by J. Joseph and K.M Joseph
Calcutta: Botanical Survey of India, 1986.
Another value-priced volume from the Botanical Survey of India, this book covers ten species of Utricularia, as well as a few of the more primitive carnivorous plants (one nepenthes and two Drosera). The quality of the line drawings is very good, and brief, but still useful, descriptions of habitat are provided. In the introduction, the authors present an interesting, although probably controversial, theory. They maintain that the apparent frequent discovery, then disappearance of Utricularia species in the study area may be explained by mutations caused by "pent up magnetic, electric, and other invisible energies released by occasional earth tremors". These mutations would then be selected against by ecological and genetic factors during subsequent years, causing the newly formed species to disappear.
Carnivorous Plants of the West: Volume II: California, Oregon and Washington
by J. Hawkeye Rondeau
Out of Print (?)
The result of years of field work, research and networking, Dr. Rondeau has put together a detailed account of the habitat and distribution of carnivorous plants occurring on the west coast of the United States. In addition to the Pinguicula, Drosera and Darlingtonia native the region, six species of Utricularia, both native and introduced, are covered. The author provides a brief survey of carnivorous plant morphology and ecology, details habitats and associated species within the study area, and discusses the status of carnivorous plant conservation in North America. Most importantly, new range information for U. ochroleuca, based on the author's personal observations is included (this information has been expanded upon in an upcoming article for the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter). I am particularly looking forward to the completion of Volume III which will include BC and the Yukon.
Plants of New Zealand
to the Carnivorous Plants of Singapore
Carnivorous Plants of Singapore is probably not indispensable, but undoubtedly
every obsessive CP book collector will want one. Diminutive, but well
produced, it covers all of the CPs native to Singapore, along with information
about a few of the more common cultivated species. It's intended audience
seems to be Nepenthes enthusiasts, with sections on predators and pitcher
fluid macrofauna. The Utricularia section covers U. caerulea, U. bifida,
U. aurea, U. gibba, U. uliginosa, U. minutissima, and U. punctata. Interestingly,
the variety of U. caerulea (latin for "blue"), found in Singapore
is actually white. This book might be of interest to those travelling
to Singapore as it gives fairly specific location information. It can
be ordered from Select
Books. The shipping charges are a little shocking, but since the book
only costs USD$4.16, the total price is still fairly reasonable.