Keep an eye out for wa­ter vi­o­let

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - COUNTRYFILE - by Owen Leyshon of the Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project

A PLANT that you might come across in ditches, ponds and small lakes across east Kent is the at­trac­tive wa­ter vi­o­let. This plant is in the prim­rose fam­ily, but dif­fers in be­ing com­pletely aquatic. The wa­ter vi­o­let flow­ers dur­ing the late spring and has dis­tinc­tive five-petalled pink to pale pur­ple flow­ers with a yel­low cen­tre. The flow­ers are ar­ranged on a leaf­less stalk, which sticks rigid out of the wa­ter. Af­ter flow­er­ing, the fruit stalks bend down­wards and the seed ripens in the wa­ter. The leaves are fine and feath­ery and are found un­der the sur­face of the wa­ter. The long roots are sil­very in colour and glis­ten in the wa­ter. This plant is not be con­fused with the cuck­ooflower or lady’s smock, which grows on the banks of ditches or wet grassy ar­eas and is in flower ear­lier, with dif­fer­ences in the leaf, stem and flow­ers. The ori­gin of the name is un­cer­tain. A num­ber of or­na­men­tal lakes and ponds have in­tro­duced wa­ter vi­o­let to add an early splash of colour be­fore the mid sum­mer flo­ral bloom around the wa­ter’s edge.

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