Lately, I've been obsessing over water plants. Something about them both scares and excites me in a good way. I've always had this thing about bodies of water where you can't see the bottom. Growing up in Michigan I swam in many a lake, pond, and stream. I always hated the feeling of touching the weedy, mushy, gooshy bottom. The plants always felt like they were gonna grab hold and drag me down. But then there was always something exhilarating of having lived through the experience. Another thing I remember about these bodies of water were the mysterious plants that broke the surface in some still corner. I remember waterlilies, cattails, as well as other mysterious foliage and flowers that broke the surface. I remember the dragonflies with their jewel-like bodies, the painted turtles, and frogs that would frolic in these floating fields of flora. The sun glimmering away on every surface creating a surrealist beauty. It wasn't until recently that I started taking a closer look at these water plants. Recently, I met the beautiful and mysterious Aponogeton distachyus commonly referred to as Water Hawthorn. The above image I took reminded me of an old punk rock song titled "Break the black ice." Here we have the ultra dynamic flower of Aponogeton distachyus breaking the late afternoon surface of a still pond. The water conjured up the image of black ice.
Aponogeton distachyus comes to us from South Africa. It really thrives in cool water situations. The Water Hawathorne grows from a tuber that likes to live planted 6 inches to 4 feet deep in cool water. It likes full sun to part shade. Typically it grows and blooms in late winter/spring and again in fall. It tends to go summer dormant if the water temperature rises to 70 degrees fahrenheit/21 degrees celsius.
Aponogeton distachyus sends up stems with elliptical, rich green foliage that break the surface and can spread 2 to 2 1/2 feet. In spring and fall, it sends up plump buds that extend dreamy, ladder-like pearly petals adorned with black spotted stamens. The look is so sculptural, almost origami-like. Flowers can be tinged with a pink and purple blush. Their fragrance is rich with vanilla tones that can pleasantly perfume their surroundings. Aponogeton distachyus look amazing in a half barrel water garden. They make for an exotic before and after bloom to summer blooming waterlilies. It's exciting to discover such cool, mysterious, intriguing plants. Their adaptations to their water world surroundings make them all the more beguiling. Aponogeton distachyus doesn't disappoint!