Aquatic Bulbs

Aqua Flora
Mon, 30 Jan 2006 13:08:02 PST
Dear Mary Sue et al,

On a recent visit to Namaqualand I saw a Spiloxene sp. with yellow flowers growing on vertical rocks with water seeping over them, on the opposite side of the road Amaryllis beladonna were growing in similar "marshy" conditions with water seeping slowly through the soil. There were also carnivorous Utricularia as well as Drosera growing along side them. There are quite a few species of tuberous Drosera, al of whom grow in wet soil, but require a dry dormancy.

On a previous visit I saw Romulea sp. growing in very wet soil, but I wouldn't call those aquatic, I also saw Onixotis stricta growing on the edge of a natural dam.

During my last visit we also found Aponogeton distachyos growing in quite rapid streams along side submerged Potamogeton sp. in icy cold water. Juncus lomatophyllus were growing on the banks. There are quite a few different Aponogetons, A.junceus and A.ranunculiflorus immediately comes to mind. A.junceus produces leaves similar to Juncus lomatophyllus when grown in marshy conditions, but floating leaves when submerged, I have only grown this one submerged, but I am not sure if I have identified it correctly. A.ranunculiflorus has submerged leaves only with tiny floating flowers.

Then there is the question of edible aquatic bulbs. Aponogeton distachyos is most certainly edible and makes a delicious stew in conjunction with mutton, potatoes, beans and sour apples or certain Oxalis leaves. We call it "Waterblommetjie Bredie" in Afrikaans.

In the nursery I have Crinum bulbispernum, C.campanulatum and C.asiaticum growing in the ponds along side Louisiana Irises, C.paludosum also grows in seasonal pans. Harold mentioned that a few Cyrtanthus also grow in "boggy" places, I grow C.breviflorus in a shallow pond where the water level varies from almost dry up to 5 cm over the pots. I also have Nymphoides thunbergiana and N.indica in the nursery.

Harold also mentioned terrestrial orchids. I have Eulophia angolensis growing in the Iris-ponds and once saw them growing in a roadside ditch near Durban. A truly magnificent site! There are several other Eulophia's, Disa's and Satyrium's that also grow in marshy conditions, Satyrium hallackii is particularly beautiful.

Unfortunately many of our indigenous "aquatic" bulbs grow in seasonal marshes, making them difficult to adapt to garden ponds due to their dry dormancy. Others like, North American, Sarracenia for instance, require distilled or rainwater in order to survive, whilst others need highly oxygenated water to thrive.

Re: Oxalis aquatica, Marsilea is a aquatic fern that superficially resembles a four-leaved clover.

Kind regards,

Pieter van der Walt
South Africa

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