Lesser Water Plantain - Baldellia ranunculoides

Scientific Name: Baldellia ranunculoides (Alismataceae).

English Name: Lesser Water Plantain (Water Plantain Family).

French Name: Fluteau fausse renoncule (='false ranuculus tin whistle').

5 Key Characters:
  • small (5 - 20 cm tall) and erect.
  • long spear shaped leaves on long stalks.
  • leaves smell of coriander when crushed.
  • flowers pale pink, 15 mm across.
  • the pointed oval seeds (carpels) form a crowded ball shape.
Lookalikes: Other Water Plantains, but they are bigger or have different coloured flowers and blunter leaves and none of them smell of coriander when crushed.

Habitat: Fens, ponds, ditches, usually on calcareous soil or peat, or marl (a type of degraded limestone gravel). Full sun, usually in the drawdown zone or where it will dry out over summer. Look out for it here on the edges of marl pits, the banks of étangs (fishponds) in chalky places or along ditches on the edges of neutral - alkaline marshes. It requires a very specific, fragile, ephemeral and localised habitat.

Flowering Period: June-July-August-September.

Status: Quite rare. It occurs at only 8 sites in the Brenne and on étangs in the Foret de Preuilly. Can be a conspicous plant of ephemeral pools.

Further Reading and References:
The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose.
Flore remarquable du Parc naturel régional de la Brenne by Francois Pinet.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

All photos will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 - 2 in the drawdown zone of the Etang de Ribaloche in the Foret de Preuilly, June. (Note that the bright green round leaves centre top belong to Marsh Pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris.)

1 comment:

  1. I think you have two subspecies (or conceivably species) of Baldellia here: B. ranunculoides subsp. repens with creeping stolons and overlapping petals (also papillose fruits) and B. ranunculoides subsp. ranunculoides with petals free at anthesis and stolons absent (smooth fruits). Google for Koslowski, Nicholls-Veuille and Jones or Arrigo with "Baldellia"