As you may or may not know, I have a natural wonderland (at least in my eyes) that I call home. I live on a rural acre and Mother Nature planted the majority of my plants. I’m particularly fond of my pond area and am constantly amazed with the new things that pop up at various times of the year.
Oh, I’ve added some plants here and there, mostly larval hosts to increase the available butterfly and moth species for me to enjoy. I also added some trees, either for shade or because they support a lot of wildlife.
The pond is approximately 90’ by 30’ and about 10-15’ at its deepest point (when full during rainy season). It was smaller when I bought the place, but I needed dirt to build up the pad for the house, so I had a guy expand the end of the pond and the “new” section is about 4 foot deep, and goes dry during the winter.
The pond has an amazing array of plants which are native to Florida, certainly too numerous to cover in a single article. The majority probably would not be available commercially (weeds, you know—NOT), but I’ll touch upon a few that probably are likely available from a native plants nursery to add to your own pond.
American White Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) is an aquatic floating plant which can be aggressive, so I generally recommend planting it in a planter with no holes before adding it to your typical garden pond to keep the rhizomes in check. At my place it has free reign. Waterfowl and mammals eat the seeds. Spiders, dragonflies and pollinators are drawn to the fragrant flowers and large leaves that act as landing stations. The blooms generally only stay open from morning until early afternoon, sad for 9-5 people. This native has a history of ethnobotanical uses, as an astringent, poultice for sores, bronchial and sore throat treatments and other things that I probably wouldn’t try. The leaves and tubers are also considered edible.
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is an emersed plant that spreads by rhizomes. Again it would be prudent to maintain in a planter without drainage holes before placing in a home garden pond. It can reach as much as three feet and does well in the margin of larger ponds. It is also quite common in our drainage ditches, which is where I acquired my initial plant (before they came and dug them out during maintenance). Leaves and seeds are considered edible, but you might have to fight the deer for them. The common name likely comes from pickerel fish.
Water Hyssop; Herb-Of-Grace (Bacopa monnieri) is a ground cover, which works well in pond margins. A larval host for the white peacock (Anartia jatrophae) butterfly and nectar source for many species. This herb has many ethnobotanical uses and there is some preliminary research on its use in Alzheimer’s disease and enhancing memory.
Arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.) grows in pond margins. There are numerous species native to Florida and I host S. graminea or Grassy Arrowhead that has thin leaves. The annual/sometime perennial plant has corms that are said to be edible. Again, pollinators stop by the white flowers with pretty green centers that eventually turn yellow (the centers, not the petals).
Water Cowbane (Tiedemannia filiformis previously Oxypolis filiformis) a.k.a. Water dropwort is an emersed member of the carrot family Apiaceae. It blooms in late summer or early fall and can reach 2-3’ in height. It has white flowers that, along with the leaves provide the perfect food for the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. A great native host so I have no need for fennel, dill or parsley. It provides nectar and attracts pollinators.
Combleaf Mermaid Weed (Proserpinaca pectinata) is a small submersed/emersed plant that can survive in the pond margin when water recedes. It has tiny inconspicuous flowers, but noticeable nutlet type fruit on the stem that is enjoyed by waterfowl. It feeds fish as well as offers them shelter and a place to reproduce. It can be used in aquariums as a bunch plant since it doesn’t mind staying completely under water.
I’m going to finish up with my tussock (surprise island) which has filled in with plants since its appearance last year and is full of yelloweyed grass, bladderwort, some bluestem grass and various sedges.
These are just a few of the naturally occurring natives in and around my pond. I’ve added Scarlet Rosemallow (Hibiscus coccineus) and Lizard’s Tail (Saururus cernuus) purchased at my local native plant nursery and Canna acquired from a friend but have yet to see a flower on any of them. I patiently await their bloom. Perhaps they just are a slow bunch to settle in although some have been there at least two years. In the meantime, the plants provide by Mother Nature are all the wildlife creatures and I really need.
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