Friday, August 22, 2008

Battery Park Aquatics

Here are a few summer aquatics from the pond at Battery Park.

First, we have Canna glauca or aquatic Canna. This species is native to Central America and is closely related to the annual Cannas you may find in pots over the summer. Canna belong to their own family, Cannaceae and their closest relatives are other members of the ginger (Zingiberales) order.

These are not perennial aquatics, they are most likely placed in the pond each spring.

Pontederia cordata, or pickerelweed, is a worthy pond plant. Though invasive in the wild (or increasingly becoming so) it is very effective in removing pollutants from a pond. It is perennial and has great arrowhead shaped leaves.

As for this plant's common name, pickerel is a word for small or juvenile pike. This plant is called pickerelweed because it grows in slow-moving water where pickerel are apt to be found.

Evidently, Chaucer had some opinions on this:

Bet [better] is, quoth he, a pike than a pickerel.
-- Chaucer

Why he felt this way, I have no idea.

Finally, a favorite of mine: Nelumbo nucifera, or Lotus:

Lotus leaves, you may have noticed, are superhydrophobic. In fact, when this property is observed in other biological surfaces, it is casually referred to as the Lotus Effect. The properties of the leaves, which allow water to bead up completely and roll off the plant are studied intensely by people who want to mimic those characteristics in manmade products (think scotch guard).

The fact that these leaves repel water and dirt is part of the reason they are considered sacred. In the muddiest of rivers, they remain pure.

The nomenclature derives from the Sinhalese word Nelum- which is the local name for the lotus. Nucifera means bearing nuts -- the fruits that are found in the persistent dried seed pods.


I'm off to the Pacific Northwest for a long weekend. Expect a few photos of whatever I find at Mount Rainier after Tuesday. In the meantime, I have scheduled a few more student posts...

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