Plant Guide > Flowers > Water Shield flower

Water Shield flower

Water Shield or Water Target

(Brasenia purpurea) Water-lily family

(B. peltata of Gray)

Flowers - Small, dull purplish, about 1/2 in. across, on stout footstalks from axils of upper leaves; 3 narrow sepals and petals; stamens 12 to 18; pistils 4 to 18, forming 1 to 3-seeded pods. Stem; From submerged rootstock; slender, branching, several feet long, covered with clear jelly, as are footstalks and lower leaf surfaces. Leaves: On long petioles attached to centre of under side of leaf, floating or rising, oval to roundish, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 1/2 to 2 in. wide.

Preferred Habitat - Still, rather deep water of ponds and slow streams.

Flowering Season - All summer.

Distribution - Parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia, Nova Scotia to Cuba, and westward from California to Puget Sound.

Of this pretty water plant Dr. Abbott says, in "Wasteland Wanderings": "I gathered a number of floating, delicate leaves, and endeavored to secure the entire stem also; but this was too difficult a task for an August afternoon. The under side of the stem and leaf are purplish brown and were covered with translucent jelly, embedded in which were millions of what I took to be insects' eggs. They certainly had that appearance. I was far more interested to find that, usually, beneath each leaf there was hiding a little pike. The largest was not two inches in length. When disturbed, they swam a few inches, and seemed wholly at sea if there was not another leaf near by to afford them shelter."