Pretty flowers

Water lily flower close up.
Water lily Nymphae alba has a beautiful white and yellow flower. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

When you think of a flower, you most probably think of something big and colorful. Maybe a rose or a sunflower, or a tulip. You probably wouldn’t think of any aquatic flowers first, even though some of them are very pretty and even colorful. 

Pond water lily flower close up.
Pond water lily Nuphar lutea has a yellow flower, which sticks out of the water in fresh and almost fresh brackish water areas. Photo by Sjef Heijnen, Metsähallitus.

Water lilies and pond lilies are probably the biggest and most conspicuous of water flowers. Huge white water lilies are more familiar from lakes and other fresh water bodies but they can be found in river estuaries, shallow bays near the coastline and other low salinity habitats at the sea as well. Yellow pond lilies are pretty, almost round and ball-like flowers that can be found in similar habitats with the water lilies. 

Arrowhead flower close up.
Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia has a showy white and purple flower. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Some of the flowers reach to the surface of the water, like buttercups (Ranunculus ssp) or European water-plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica). They have small but beautiful little flowers that either float at the surface of the water (Ranunculus) or are erect above the water (Alisma).  

Buttercup flower close up.
Buttercups have cute little white flowers in a dramatic backdrop of Simo River estuary, Finland. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Some of the flowers are very modest. Claspingleaf pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus) flowers reach the surface but they are like brown little pine cones and don’t really resemble flowers that much. Some of the humble flowers can be found underwater – Baltic water-plantain (Alisma wahlenbergii) flowers never really open. They can be found underwater and they always look like tightly closed little fists.  

Baltic water-plantain flower puds underwater.
Baltic water-plantain Alisma wahlenbergii flowers never open. They look like tightly closed little fists underwater. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Many of the aquatic vascular plants don’t always do that much with their flowers. They might spread from broken pieces of the plant or from their roots. Some flowers serve a purpose, though. Some are pollinated by flying insects above water and some might get pollinated by water, like wind for the terrestrial plants. 

Claspingleaf pondweed Potamogeton perfoliatus has a very modest brown flower above the surface. Photo by Suvi Saarnio, Metsähallitus.

Next time when you go to the sea shore, look around and try to spot some aquatic plant flowers. 

If you want to know more about the species of the SEAmBOTH area, see species guides on the Results page!

Essi Keskinen 

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