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Billabongs in the northern Kimberley are welcome oases of colour in an otherwise brown landscape. This one reflected the clear blue sky, broken up by water lilies and a scattering of yellow Nymphoides flowers. A ring of trees surrounded it, taking advantage of the permanent water source.
My student and I approached with excitement. We had spent a week searching barren habitats, but now on the final day of our expedition we were ecstatic about the potential of this watering hole.
Read more: The strange world of the carnivorous plant
Between us we had been plant-hunting in northern Australia for nearly 20 years and knew well that where water seeped over sandstone, carnivorous plants often grew.Adam Cross, Author provided
Clambering along some rocks at the edge of the billabong, I looked down by chance into a small rockhole and nearly fell in. Floating between two water lily leaves was a short stem of whorled leaves. And at the end of each leaf, a tiny snapping trap.
Looking out into the middle of the billabong I saw thousands of plants, and even a few tiny white flowers protruding above the surface of the water. After a decade of fruitlessly searching the swamps, creeks and rivers of the Kimberley for it, I had stumbled across a new population of Aldrovanda vesiculosa, the waterwheel plant.
Authors: Adam Cross, Research Fellow, Curtin University