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In an ordinary aquarium, the Water gentian also wants to bloom, if it gets good light and does not just root in pure sand.

 We now have a piece of rhizome. Both ends look a bit torn and battered; cut it with a[ 177 ]sharp knife smooth—as economically as possible, of course, so that we have a large chunk left over. There are also roots on our rhizome; if you notice one that is torn, it must be neatly cut off, again as close as possible to the mutilated spot. This smooth trimming we do, to make the wounds heal more easily; you know by experience that a wound inflicted with a sharp knife heals relatively quickly.


Now our loot wrapped in damp moss and then home! Planting is very easy. We fill an ordinary flower pot with clay, not with flower soil or garden soil, but with clay to a few cm. below the edge. In it we plant the rhizome at a depth of 5 cM. and then put the whole thing in a bucket full of water for twenty-four hours. Then the clay has taken up as much water as it can—and clay can take up much water.


Now we put the pot in a saucer in front of the window—preferably outside: and now if we only make sure that we keep half a cm. keep water above the clay—something easy to care for, especially if the clay is a bit compacted—we'll have a beautiful ornamental plant in about five weeks, and a leftover into the bargain. For every summer the plant comes up again more abundantly, until your pot is covered with the round Rijksdaalder leaves, which push each other up and from which ten or twenty beautiful yellow star-flowers rise.


The people who visit you, of course, have never seen such a thing, and if it was good for something, you could tell them you had nasturtiums from the Sierra Leona there, or something like that.


In an ordinary aquarium, the Water gentian also wants to bloom, if it gets good light and does not just root in pure sand.[ 178 ]


Now there are a hundred reasons to have the bottom of the aquarium covered with clean sand—preferably even purified sand—washed in clear water until it no longer clouded and rinsed with boiling water. Also the pebbles and shells, which serve to brighten the soil and to shelter the animals, must first be properly washed and cleaned.


If we nevertheless want to grow plants in our aquarium that require clay or peat soil, we must plant them in separate pots, which are fixed in the sandy bottom. Empty meat extract jars are excellent for this. In order to prevent the soil from these pots from contaminating the water of the aquarium, it is desirable not to fill them completely with clay or peat, but to fill them with a top layer of 1 cm. thick, consisting of washed coarse sand or fine gravel.


The sandy bottom in the aquarium itself need not be thicker than 3 cm.; the pots in which we grow our bloomers are easily 6 cm. high or higher. They should therefore preferably be placed in the corners and surrounded with pieces of pebbles or shells; that is neat.


White and yellow clumps can be grown in the same way, but require much more space.


Give it a try—a windowsill with six pots full of floriferous white water roses is well worth the effort and effort required. It goes without saying that Waterweed and the other aquatic plants, which usually take root in the mud bottom, but which you can safely place in the clean sand of your aquarium bottom, also want a bite of clay. Treat the waterweed to it in good light, then there will be no room left for another plant in your entire aquarium![ 179 ]


The frog bite floats and grows next to and between the clumps, but also in narrow ditches, where the large plants cannot find enough space. 4 rosettes of reduced plume petals on a long, thin, prostrate stem. From the center of the rosettes rise the white flowers, consisting of 3 large white petals with three small green ones outside. They are on stems, which are about 1 cm. protrude above the water. In some rosettes the flowers have only stamens with yellow anthers, in others only 6 styles with yellow stigmas. Flies transport the pollen. The flowers are clustered together in groups of three or more, and are concealed before budding between two concave petals.


The scientific name of frog bite is Hydrocharis morsus ranae, which translates as: someone who is dear to the water and who at the same time provides a tasty snack for the frogs.


The flesh-eating frogs are more and more mistakenly thought to bite into more plants or flowers; The whole family of Ranunculus owes its name to this circumstance, for Ranunculus again means little frog, and Batrachium, the Greek scientific name of water Ranunculus, means the same.


Against the Batrachiums I have several grievances, fortunately not of such a serious nature, but I can still think with pleasure of the white flower cushions with which they cover our ditches in May and June and July. But first of all they know very little about cross-pollination; pollen from the same flower almost always ends up on the stigmas, yes, at high water levels many Batrachiums don't even bother to raise their flowers above water[ 180 ]to develop them there. They silently hold the heads under water, then the anthers open and the pollen just falls on the stigmas. That shows little hobby.


Even then the scientists have distinguished several species of Batrachium, which on paper can also be distinguished fairly easily, but there are so many intermediate forms in nature, which correspond to two or three descriptions at a time, that you with your "Floras" with, the longer the more he sinks into uncertainty and doubt. At last you decide to dry your specimen for your herbarium after all, and Batr. Peteveri with a question mark or such a cry of despair, but if you open your press after a few days, the whole tormentor has become a black monster.


Actually, it all depends on the arrangement of the leaves. The Batrachiums, for that matter, often have floating and also submerged leaves, the floating forms, varying from the ivy form to those of the leaves of the common buttercup; those in hiding are finely hairy distributed à la Hornleaf or à la Bladderwort. But the flowers are pretty white, and they have yellow hearts, and—as I have said before—they form a dense, brilliant white, snow cover on ditches and puddles in the summer months.


They also want to continue very well in the aquarium; They are actually the only aquatic plants that I know of that really want to bloom profusely in an ordinary aquarium. I can especially recommend the species with finely divided, stiff leaves (B. divaricatum), which can be found in all peat ditches, but take the precaution to thoroughly wash your plants in clean water before introducing them into your aquarium, because a peat ditch is full of iniquity!


Shaving or Scratching Shears.  Stratios aloides.

Shaving or Scratching Shears. Stratios aloides.


Now we have another aquatic plant, also with white flowers;[ 183 ]we'll keep an eye on that for a while, then we'll have done enough for this summer. We don't seem to be able to find duckweed flowers, we will look for them again next year, when we take care of the flowers from the water's edge. You cannot find everything at once. But to the point.


That plant, which remains to us, is again not a rarity, but nevertheless a most remarkable crop. Millions and millions of them grow in our peaty homeland, and they have contributed not a little to its formation. They completely cover the bottom of several of our canals—no, not the dead ones, but the living plants—for they almost always live wholly under water. Almost always—only twice a year do they emerge, once to flower and once to sow their seeds. The rest of their lives they spend at the bottom, rooting in the mud bottom and branching out in all directions. You have seen them often enough, dense rosettes of long, pointed leaves, which are provided with spiky tips at their edges, after which they are called water-aloes. (Stratiotes aloides: the able-bodied warrior,


The people call them shaving or crab shears. And that again proves that 'the people', if they only like it once, know how to notice very well, and always have a suitable name at hand for a striking observation. A good folk name is a treasure for science. The crab claws in question, from which our plant takes its name, can be found on the flower stalk a few cm. under the flower itself. There are a few leaves there, which are so formed and fused that they resemble very much the claws of a crab or lobster.


You will find the flowers from May to August. they have it[ 184 ]not yet very far for flowers; they could do with a little more effort to appear among the leaves, for they desperately need it. They are very similar to frogbite (Hydrocharis morsus ranae—I add this Latin to avoid confusion with Batrachium). But they are bigger and fuller. If only they were more noticeable, because without the help of insects they are also impossible to produce seeds. This is because—as with hydrocharis—on one plant there are nothing but flowers with stamens, while those on another plant contain nothing but pistils.


The pollen is sticky and not abundant, the stigmas are small, the flowers do not protrude at all, so that the wind cannot take care of the transfer of the pollen, insects have to do that. Now the flower does make some effort to attract insects—she offers them honey —and quite a lot, for there are 24 honey machines in each flower .


You can easily find them: you may have already mistaken them for stamens, an explicable mistake of which you need not be ashamed: the great Linnaeus made them too. If you cut away the 3 green sepals and the 3 white petals, you will find 24 yellow tongues 2 cm in a circle around the stamens or pistils. long and 3 mM. wide. Each tongue has a white round spot on its foot and a drop of honey glistens there . Or are we on the evening of a hot summer's day and you don't see the drops, then put a few of those defoliated flowers in a glass of water and the next morning you will find your golden crown with a ring of diamonds!


Shaving or Scratching Shears.

Shaving or Scratching Shears.


It's a shame that the insects abandon the flower anyway[ 187 ]so that it hardly ever produces ripe seeds. In general, the aquatic plants seldom make it that far. Elodea cannot form seeds, because it has no pollen flowers in our continent; the seeds of Hornwort and Yarrow of Frog Bite and Scheeren seldom ripen, we have still not found any flowers of the duckweed, seeds even less, the Fountain Herbs are also not so brilliant. The clumps, however, produce large seeds, and so do the water gentian and water buttercup.


It does not make much sense otherwise that those plants which produce little or no seed should die out—on the contrary. They multiply in such a way that they cover entire expanses of water. Ditches are closing up, navigation in some inland waters is hampered and sometimes seriously impeded, all because of the wonderful vigor of these water inhabitants. If a withered piece of waterweed stalk has conquered our whole country and a good part of Germany in just under thirty years, a single plant of frog bite or water aloe is sufficient to cover a pond of 100 m2 in a year . surface to cover.


If you look closely at a single Frogbite plant, you will notice that the 5 or 6 floating stems of the leaves do not meet at the same point, but that they arise at different heights from a very short trunk—each leaf separately. Now—where such a leaf springs from the trunk, just in the acute angle between the ascending petiole and the trunk itself, is a safe place where the plants can carry out all kinds of schemes at their leisure. Just look at the trees in the summer; in the corner of each petiole you will find a small green dot; in that little green dot the growth is prepared for next summer. When in the[ 188 ]In autumn the leaves fall off, then in that spot, completely ready, are branches, leaves and flowers for the following year.


But to return to our Frog bite, they say "Frog money" in Harlingen. In spring it already forms buds in the leaf axils (that's what the safe places are called between the petioles and the stem). Those buds grow on long stems, but these stems don't grow upwards, like those of the leaves, but parallel to the surface of the water—horizontally that is. They grow quite fast (sometimes as much as 1 cM. per day) until they reach about 1 dM. long when the bud is no longer in the shade of the supernatant leaves. Then the growth of the stem ceases, but the bud at the end of it now begins to develop and sends up two, three, four, five leaflets, which, floating on the surface, resemble a new frog-bite plant. That is indeed it,


Each plant can send out several shoots, so that it may happen to you that if you want to pull a flower out of the water—take out a network of twenty or thirty plants, bound together by threadlike strands.


Shears (Stratiotes) grow in exactly the same way—so they can survive just as much as frog bites—without seed formation. We have already seen that duckweed, almost like this, multiply by budding—you also understand now that our chance of getting duckweed flowers is sadly small—the duckweed plants can do without them.



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