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Life in Freshwater

Water Soldiers (Stratiotes aloides)

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water soldier

A floating plant that is submerged unless it is flowering. The leaves are spine-toothed and in rosettes. The white flowers are between 30 and 40 mm borne on the end of a thin stem which grows out to the side of the main plant. The flower is very short lived. Inhabits still water, particularly canals. Widespread and throughout Europe .

ECOLOGY: Water Soldier can become a pest, clogging canals. Asexual reproduction is rapid, budding to produce three or four new plants each year. Early in spring they are almost insignificant but by mid-summer they expand to almost half a metre in diameter. With the serrated leaves they soon grow to become interlocking and can dominate the surface of canals and sluggish rivers. Outside of the summer season they are often submerged if there is sufficient depth. As they mature in early summer they float to the surface to flower, sinking by the autumn. This traffic to the surface is utilised by some aquatic insects like damselfly larvae as a way of reaching the surface to emerge. This has been noted in the Red-eyed Damselfly on the Basingstoke Canal, England.



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