Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the the June 3, 2012 Newsletter issued from the woods of the Loess Hill Region a few miles east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

At the edge of big cotton field I'd been watching a puddle filled with an interesting aquatic plant, waiting for the plant to flower. Returning there this week I found that the farmer had driven his tractor right through the puddle, though he easily could have passed by it, leaving only a fraction of the original population. You can see some beat-up leaves and a fresh 1-1/8th-inch wide (3cm) flower above.

That pretty little plant goes by names such as Ducksalad and Mudplantain. It's HETERANTHERA LIMOSA, a member of the Water-Hyacinth Family, the Pontederiaceae. Actually, the most commonly encountered English name is Blue Mudplantain, but the species comes in both blue and white forms and we have the white in this area. The flowers are ephemeral, opening soon after dawn but wilting by midday. Also, they are bilaterally symmetrical, not radial like most blossoms, plus they arise from folded sheaths like dayflowers, which also is unusual. A pretty close-up is below:

Mudplantain, HETERANTHERA LIMOSA, flower

Mudplantain occupies an interesting distribution area, occurring in the central US from South Dakota southward, eastward as far as Mississippi and westward to western Texas, plus there's an island population here and there in other states. Then it extends southward into Brazil and Argentina.