WATER LOBELIA

Lobelia dortmanna

Bellflower Family [Campanulaceae]

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

category
category8Evergreen
leaves
status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
flower
flower8lilac
 
flower
flower8azure
 
inner
inner8black
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
3+2
petals
petalsZcleft petalsZcut
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8milkysap
 

8th July 2018, Devoke Water, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Gathered in masses looking like a haze in the nearest nook of part of Devoke Water.


8th July 2018, Devoke Water, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
And in a less-dense gathering further around the edge. The plant keeps close to the shallower shore; it cannot grow in deep water.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD


26th July 2007, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Always grows in shallow water in tarns and lakes in acid areas of Northern and Western hills and fells. Avoids the Pennines and anywhere south of Bristol.


26th July 2007, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
Stems are up to 70cm and leafless. All leaves are submerged, evergreen, in a basal rosette and linear. Some can be espied lurking on the submerged bed of the tarn.


26th July 2007, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
The flowering stems are often not straight and sometimes twist about. Flowering stalks usually emerge singly at decreasing intervals up the stem, most being near the top. Short leaf-like green bracts from which a flower stalk often emerges are also on the stem.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The green dangly bits are the fruits of the spent flowers, some with their withered petals still attached. There are between 1 to 10 flowers/fruits on a stem.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The drooping green fruits. The stems are totally bereft of any leaves (all leaves are in a basal rosette submerged under water).


26th July 2007, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Photo: © Phil And Ann Farrer
An un-usual specimen with a single pair of flowers on short stalks both growing from the top of the stem. Sepal teeth short and rounded. Flower tube long before splaying out into two lips. The flowers, 12 to 20 mm long including the long cylindrical tube at the rear of the petals. The flower has 3 deeply cleft lower lips about 5 to 10mm long and 1 to 3mm wide plus two much narrow upper lips which are curled and slightly shorter and narrower than the lower three. Flower colour is white to either a very pale blue or very pale lilac. All petal tips pointed.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The fruit is a capsule between 5 and 10mm long, 3-5mm wide and contains many small seeds.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The flowers emerge from oval bracts on the stem on longish drooping petioles (flower stalks). Stems and petioles are reddish-brown.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The sepal tube and 5 sepal teeth from which the flower emerges are also concolorous reddish-brown.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The bracts on the stems are oval with a few pale-green dots on both side edges.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The 5 sepal teeth are narrow, rounded at the end and cupped around the wide, flat base of the flower.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The flowers are strongly zygomorphic with three lower petals angled forward, and two much narrower and slightly shorter petals looped above the two anthers.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The anthers are charcoal and fused laterally with the styles (which might be the white object between them with very short 'hairs').


8th July 2018, Devoke Water, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
At the waters edge, caused by dropping water levels (it has hardly rained here for about 7 weeks now, and the weather has been oppressively hot for most of that period speeding evaporation) many rosettes of once submerged leaves minus their flowering/fruiting stalks have been stranded near the surface or are now on the tarns shore!


8th July 2018, Devoke Water, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Some leaves have an unidentified white encrustation on them, either an evaporated salt or some fungus.


7th July 2018, Blea Tarn, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Two detached now floating leaf rosettes, with broken flowering stems.


8th July 2018, Devoke Water, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
At the edge of both tarns many specimens had lost their aerial flowering stem and had become uprooted, possibly by wave action or by folk paddling in the water near the edge. The leaves are linear, either round or oval in cross-section, 2.5 to 7.5cm long and without teeth. They are evergreen! The roots are white and would normally be below the ground. Completely lacking aerial leaves, the leaves/roots have evolved the unusual property of being able to absorb carbon dioxide from the water rather than from the atmosphere.


Not to be confused with : Water Violet (Hottonia palustris) nor with Water Hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) [plants with similar names which look vaguely similar and which grow in similar shallow freshwater, and moreover which are not in the same family]

Some similarities to : Heath Lobelia (Lobelia urens) but that grows on heaths in the far south of England, not further than about 20 miles from the sea.

No relation to : Water-Soldier, Water Horsetail, Water Figwort, Water Purslane, Water Mint, Water Pepper, Water Avens, Water Dock, Water Forget-me-not, Blue Water-Speedwell, Water Germander nor to dozens more [plants with similar names].

The stems, when broken, seep a milky latex.

It is a native perennial with the underwater leaves being evergreen. Grows in the shallow parts of mountain tarns and lakes on acid soils in the North and West of the UK but avoiding the Pennines. It is hardly ever found in slow flowing rivers or streams. Thus mainly southern parts of Snowdonia, Mid Wales and the Lake District, plus most of Scotland avoiding the East and many parts of west in Ireland. It often grows with similar Isoetids such as Shore-weed (Littorella uniflora), Quillwort (Isoettes lacustris), Spring Quillwort (Isoettes echinospora) and Awlwort (Subularia aquatica),


  Lobelia dortmanna  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Campanulaceae  

Distribution
 family8Bellflower family8Campanulaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Lobelia
Lobelia
(Lobelias)

WATER LOBELIA

Lobelia dortmanna

Bellflower Family [Campanulaceae]

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