Monday, March 3, 2008

Water lettuce for spring-hungry people

As part of our current series "I can't wait until it is spring because I have had enough of winter', here is some more green. This is a very cool aquatic plant called Pistia or water lettuce. I like how you can drop water on it and the plant never gets wet - the water drops just roll off the plant surface and back in the water (check out the bouncy hair picture on the Wikipedia page). It is tropical so it won't become invasive in Sweden and New Jersey, so we are lucky. You can keep it in ponds over the summer - I would love to have a pond in our back yard, with dragonflies, frogs, and sedges and iris.

Pistia belongs to the aroids, which mostly are tall, terrestrial monster-looking plants like Monstera and Philodendron. The Pistia flowers are really tiny and hidden in the middle of the floating plant (see photo here). Another aroid that is soon up and flowering here is of course the skunk cabbage, which creates its own heat in the flower stalk to attract sleepy, cold wintry flies that pollinate the plants. The flora of Sweden and New Jersey is so different and also so similar. Wouldn't you want some skunk cabbage in Sweden?


EH said...

I love this plant too,I had it in my aquarium för a while before. Had to reduce them often though or they would have covered the surface entirely.

You could dig a nice pond where you have your "japanese rose invaded"- field, I bet the nice wildlife would thrive. And you could get your own box turtles!

Blue iris, yellow swedish iris, "fackelblomster", Strandveronika, rosendunört.... mmmm I love ponds!

LS said...

Oh no, fackelblomster is purple loosestrife - one of the most invasive species on this side of the pond (=Atlanten). How can a plant that is so beautiful and nice on one side of an ocean turn into a pest here? But all the other pond plants are approved by me.

LS said...

PS. Box turtles live on land, not in water.

EH said...

But the box turtles came from the area in the wood near some puddles didn´t it? So it wants to have it moist around, right?
I think it was wonderful!

LS said...

Yes, they like water, but they are not the kind of turtles that sit on rocks and swim in water all the time. They like moist leaves in forests. Turtles are still exotic animals, it is amazing they live around our house. Same with turkey vultures (TVs), mountain bluebirds, and cicadas. I wonder if I'll ever get used to them.