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 foot-stalks 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.”