Last April we went on a family trip to the Myrtle Beach area. While His Manliness and my baby brother creature (note: he's in high school and is several inches taller than me now, but as the eldest child, I will eternally call him the baby brother) were preoccupied with the golfing, I was far more sensibly intrigued by the availability of aquatic plants that don't range far enough north to find back home.
The house we rented for a week turned out to be something of a birder's paradise—sitting on the edge of a pond, its population of fish attracted birds like cormorants, herons, and egrets, and the usual array of anatids. My favorite was this awesome male hooded merganser:
He refused to come close enough for me to take a better photo, but you have to admit, that's a neat duck!
But, enough birds. This is about the PLANTS!!!!!! So I proceeded to raid the nearest roadside ditch:
This was part of a larger complex of channels and ponds created to collect rainwater and spit it out into the ocean. It's a fairly common sight in flat coastal areas down south.
Ludwigia palustris was, of course, everywhere. If you can't find L. palustris by any given ditch in the Southeast, you probably aren't actually looking at a ditch in the Southeast.
This Saururus cernuus lined the edges of the pond (in a small park) all the ditches flowed into. It may have been planted at some point, as there was some evidence of prior landscaping efforts—a good deal of non-native Colocasia esculenta was interspersed with the Saururus. However, both species had long since naturalized and plantlets and young shoots could be found all along the pond's edges.
Despite the proliferation of L. palustris, I did find a lovely patch of Ludwigia repens tucked away in the corner of one ditch.
It trailed out from the banks to form a small thicket in standing water.
I was rather shocked to see all of this Samolus valerandi in bloom—it doesn't flower until mid to late summer back home.
Another great little find came in the form of a few patches of Lilaeopsis carolinensis, a large species of Lilaeopsis that functions a bit like a Vallisneria in the aquarium—a tall, grassy background plant reaching heights of 12-18" It was cute and stubby here, but it was still very early in the growing season. The sample I brought home has grown much larger since then.
My favorite find was this stoloniferous Ludwigia, tentatively IDed as L. alata. I plan to flower it in the greenhouse and see if that's actually correct.
Alas, I couldn't stay there forever, so we packed up at the end of the week and started driving back home.
Not that that stopped me from ditch diving some more! somewhere in North Carolina, we stopped at a Chik-fil-A for lunch. It was a rainy, overcase sort of day, and a ditch out front was flooded. I poked around a bit, and found myself another prize:
Some Gratiola virginiana was growing amidst the grass!
So, all in all, a successful trip, especially for one so early in the growing season.