MARE'S-TAIL

Hippuris vulgaris

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

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status
statusZnative
inner
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petals
petalsZ0
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26th Aug 2013, Hesketh Outmarsh, Tarleton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD


24th June 2006, Kennet and Avon Canal. Photo: © RWD


24th June 2006, Kennet and Avon Canal. Photo: © RWD
An erect and unbranched waterweed mostly submerged but with the top 30cm or so towering above the still or slow-moving freshwater in which it grows.


24th June 2006, Kennet and Avon Canal. Photo: © RWD
Damaged and probably uprooted Mare's-tail plants can be seen floating on the surface.


24th June 2006, Kennet and Avon Canal. Photo: © RWD
Gradually tapers to a graceful point. Built of closely-spaced whorled sections, but which are actually continuous and do not pull apart at the seams as do Horsetails.


24th June 2006, Kennet and Avon Canal. Photo: © RWD
The pinkish petal-less flowers are arranged in rings just above the leaf whirls.


16th Aug 2010, a dune slack pond, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The top half of the plant.


25th Sept 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
By September any flowers have gone. Leaves flat, linear and narrow and in whorls of between 6 to 12.


26th Aug 2013, nr R. Ribble, Tarleton, Lancs Photo: © RWD
Some specimens seem to be terminated at the summit by a brown stud looking like a chocolate button, whereas others seem to have a modern spiky hairstyle on top. Stems can be reddish particularly just above the water level.


16th Aug 2010, a dune slack pond, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The submerged roots and leaves of possibly disturbed specimens.


25th Sept 2008, Trowbridge Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Not all specimens actually live in water; some thrive in muddy places.

Slight resemblance to : Whorled Water-Milfoil (Myriophyllum alterniflorum) but that has whorls of four leaves, which are finely and pinnately divided to look a little like feathers.

Mare's-tail used to be in the Mare's Tail [Hippuridaceae] Family until taxonomists decided that it suited the Plantain Family better.

Not related to: the Horsetails, to which it is only superficially similar. Horsetails have stems in sections which can, if pulled hard, be pulled apart, whereas Mare's-tail has an un-broken continuous stem. Also, what may look like a whorl of leaves on Horsetails are actually a whorl of finer stems, which can likewise also be pulled apart (some more so than others).

Mare's-tail has sometimes been called a Horsetail which it is not.

Mare's-tail has two growth forms: Wholly submerged aquatics with long, flaccid stems which are sometimes proliferant in clear slightly alkaline water, and those with more rigid stems which are held partly aloft above the water which grow near the edges of ponds and lakes or in upland flushes and lowland swamps. The latter form are very robust if growing on deep oxygen-deprived mud. It grows at up to 900m above sea-level but is rare above 400m.

Curly Waterweed (Lagarosiphon major) is the only other aquatic plant with similar whorls of flat leaves, but on that they curl. Also, Curly waterweed has a 3-petalled pink flower, whereas Mare's-tails lack petalled flowers.

A yellow dye can be obtained from Mare's-tail.


  Hippuris vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Plantaginaceae  

Distribution
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 BSBI maps
genus8Hippuris
Hippuris
(Mare's-tail)

MARE'S-TAIL

Hippuris vulgaris

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

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