MARESTAIL

Hippuris vulgaris

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

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status
statusZnative
inner
inner8pink
petals
petalsZ0
stem
stem8round

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 Marestail 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 roots of possibly disturbed specimens.

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.

Marestail used to be in the Mare's Tail [Hippuridaceae] Family until taxonomists decided the Plantain Family suited it 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 Marestail 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 also be pulled apart.

Marestail has sometimes been called a Horsetail which it is not.

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 Marestails lack petalled flowers.

A yellow dye can be obtained from Marestail.


  Hippuris vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Plantaginaceae  

Distribution
family8plantain family8plantaginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Hippuris
Hippuris
(Mare's-tail)

MARESTAIL

Hippuris vulgaris

Plantain Family [Plantaginaceae]  

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