Consider this a token botany post. Plants make up the majority of the visible biomass around us, but of course I, being anthropocentric, focus on the animals. There are, however, some interesting aquatic plants that I’d like to feature.This is the bottom of one of my vegetated enclosures. I have to say I’m pretty proud of how it’s turned out: I covered everything with some stonewort, much of which was half-dead, but enough plants are regrowing from last year that it looks quite like a natural pond bottom.
Stonewort (Chara sp., which I’ve mentioned before) makes up much of what you see here. It’s actually a green alga, not a vascular plant; in fact, it belongs to the sister group of the so-called “higher” plants. One of its interesting characteristics is the production of hydrogen sulphide, making it smell like rotting eggs when you take it out of the water.
There are also wispy, grass-like plants called Najas flexilis. I don’t know much about it other than the fact that it’s also sprouting in my unvegetated enclosures, and I keep having to uproot it.
Also of note are the wide, ruffled leaves of Potamogeton amplifolius. This plant produces two kinds of leaves: submersed, seen above, and floating leaves, which lie on the pond’s surface like water lilies, attached to long stems:
A few of the ponds have cattails (Typha sp.) starting to grow. My enclosures also have a few scraps f bladderwort (Utricularia sp.), which I used instead of Chara in an experiment last year. They consist of stems with little shoots branching off, looking like thick pipecleaners. Bladderwort is carnivorous: the bladders for which it’s named are tiny podlike traps that can suck in zooplankton. I’m told it produces lovely flowers, but I haven’t seen it flowering, most likely because the ponds aren’t shady enough for it to grow well.