|Click on the plants and flowers below to read more about them.|
|Water Loving Plants|
|Free Floating Plants|
|Plants and Flowers That Grow on the Banks of the Grand Canal|
|Round Leafed Sundew|
1. Submergent Plants
These are plants that live under the water in the canal. An example of this type of plant is the Spiked Watermilfoil. This submergent plant has feathery leaves which grow in groups of four on its stems. It has thin reddish flowery spikes which appear above the surface of the canal. The name comes from the Latin and French for "a thousand leaves". The lower flowers are female and the upper are male. This plant flowers in June and July.
These are plants which grow out of the canal water. Their roots are under water in the canal bed mud and their leaves and flowers grow above the water. An example of this type of plant is the Common Bulrush. The Victorian painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema painted "Moses in the Bulrushes" which show the cradle of Moses in a clump of Reed Mace. Because the painting became famous, these plants became known as Bulrushes. This became the common name for the plant. It is a robust plant with tall upright stems and narrow, straight sided upright leaves that rise above the top of the flower. The female flower head is brown and sausage shaped; the male flower head is feathery and rises from the top of the female flower head.
3. Free Floating Plants
These plants float freely in the canal water and are not rooted to the canal bed. An example of this type of plant is the Duckweed. It looks more like an alga and forms a floating carpet on the surface of the canal water. It has rounded leaves with two to five solitary or connected stems and a single root stem.
4. Floating Leafed Plants
These plants roots are in the canal bed and their stems grow to the surface of the water where leaves and flowers grow floating on the surface of the canal water. An example of this type of plant is the Water Lily. This is a floating plant whose stems can grow up to three metres with twenty to twenty five white or yellow petals arranged in spirals as flowers. Yellow Water Lilies have been nicknamed "brandy bottles" as they give off a small of stale alcohol and their seeds look like old fashioned spirit bottles.
The Bramble is an understory plant (grows along the ground under trees) of the woodland habitat along the canal bank. It has low arching spiny stems which root out of the tip to form hoops which can trip the unwary walker up. There are 2000 varieties of bramble and the fruit (blackberry) can be used to make jam, jelly, yoghurt or pies. Superstition says that you are not supposed to eat the berries after the 29th September because the Devil is supposed to have spit on them. The flesh fly lays her eggs on the bramble then so there is wisdom in the old saying.
As with primroses, there are two kinds of flowers, one with the stigma in the flower centre, with the anthers further down the tube formed by petals. The other has a ring of anthers in the flower centre, with the stigma further down the tube. According to legend St. Peter dropped the keys of heaven and the first cowslips sprang from the spot.
The name "Primula" comes from two Latin words meaning "first rose". Primroses herald the coming of the spring. The species named Vulgaris means "common" but in fact these flowers are being widely picked along canal banks and are becoming rarer. Primroses produce two kinds of flower. Pollen from one sort of flower is transferred to another so that sticky seeds can be produced.
The Yarrow has feathery foliage and flat clusters of daisylike flower heads. The leaves of the Yarrow were used to relieve toothache and as a kind of snuff.
The Common Butterwort is a carnivorous (meat/insect eating) plant. This plant has pretty voilet flowers and sticky leaves which insects stick to. The leaves roll up and down and a sticky digestive enzyme is released which dissolves the insect releasing vitamins and nutrients to the plant.
The Butterburr has large rhubarb like leaves which were once used to wrap butter in. The leaves can grow to almost 90cm and have a dense felting of hairs underneath. The genus name Petasites comes from the Greek "petusos" meaning "a broad rimmed hat". The plant has medicinal properties. In the Middle Ages the plants roots were powdered and used to remove spots and blemishes.
This is another carnivorous plant. It has red hairs on its leaves which secrete a droplet of stick liquid (glue). These hair can move and attract passing insects which stick to its leaves. These hairs and the leaf margins curl inwards to enclose the insect. People observing the plant thought it could retain its dew in full sunlight hence the name Sundew.
8. Bell Heather
This plant grows in sandy soil in wet areas along the canal. It has tightly rolled leaves which have a special skin (cuticle) to keep moisture in. because Bell heather is such a pretty plant and grows well in poor soils it has also been used by gardeners.
For more information on plants go to the Plant Life website.
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