Streams, marshes & bogs

'Fool's Watercress' (APIUM NODIFLORUM)

Druce knew this as 'Common Water Parsnip' (which is a much more descriptive and better common name to my mind) in ditches, shallow, slow streams, marshy meadows and wet places - generally distributed, occurring in all districts of Buckinghamshire a century ago

A procumbent or ascending perennial 30-100cm; stem finely furrowed, slender or stout, flowering ones rooting at base only; leaves simply pinnate, bright green, shiny; segments 1-3.5cm, 4-6 pairs, lanceolate to ovate, serrate or crenate, often slightly lobed, sessile

Umbels leaf-opposed

Umbels sessile or shortly peduncled; rays unequal, spreading or recurved; bracts usually 0; bracteoles c. 5, narrowly lanceolate, as long as the shortly pedicelled flowers; flowers 0.5mm, white

Bracteoles easily seen under flower umbels

Base of leaf-stalk with scarious margin

Hollow stem

'Fool's Watercress' growing abundantly in a small stream between Langley and Datchet



A SYMPHYTUM growing beside a stream at Mortimer, Hampshire

This is a difficult genus to identify, complicated by widespread hybridisation, showing many different combinations of the characters of parents; this is probably a form of 'Blue or Russian Comfrey' (SYMPHYTUM X UPLANDICUM)



Orange Balsam (IMPATIENS CAPENSIS) - flowers strongly blotched or spotted reddish-brown

This balsam, a native of E.North America has escaped along river and stream-banks

Given the serious and detrimental impact of 'Himalayan Balsam' (IMPATIENS GLANDULIFERA) in some habitats, it is noteworthy that I have never seen them growing together - why e.g. has I.GLANDULIFERA NOT invaded the shady banks of this section of the upper Colne Brook?

The 'Orange Balsam' certainly has colourful and attractive flowers; Druce in 'The Flora of Buckinghamshire' (1926) observed it was locally abundant, spreading down the Chess and Colne to the Thames, having colonised in the past 50 years. At that time, 'Himalayan Balsam' was rare but "likely to spread" - an accurate prediction!!

Streamside habitat for IMPATIENS CAPENSIS



Joseph Chadwell photographing Himalayan Balsam (IMPATIENS GLANDULIFERA) in a ditch

Also known as Policeman's Helmet due to resemblance to old-fashioned police hats - introduced from the Western Himalaya into the RHS Garden at Chiswick in the 19th Century, from where it has unfortunately spread, becoming an invasive and troublesome weed.........

Another name is Bees' Bums due to bumble-bees frequenting the flowers - note one deep inside in the image above; as a lot of time, money and effort is being expended attempting to control 'Himalayan Balsam', thought should be given to a greater understanding of where it is growing and where it has not become established; in some ditches which support minimal vegetation near Langley Park, its presence is not necessarily harmful..... this observation in no way underestimates the damage this species has caused in some parts of the country - I particularly recollect viewing its impact on a wetland nature reserve of national importance, when conducting a survey for what was the Wales Field Unit of the Nature Conservancy Council in 1984



Fruiting capsules of 'Yellow Flag' (IRIS PSEUDACORUS) split open (September)

Exposing brown seeds



Water Forget-me-not (MYOSOTIS probably SCORPIOIDES) - wet places

The slightly notched petals and calyx divided to less than half in flower



Comfrey (SYMPHYTUM OFFICINALE) - on a shady bank beside a stream

White, funnel-shaped flowers with 5 short, broad lobes; for comparison with SYMPHYTUM X UPLANDICUM see:

Nodding flowers in terminal forked scorpoid cymes

Young fruits with protruding white styles

Stem winged with decurrent leaf-bases; the plant was once used as a poultice in country districts



Purple Loosestrife (LYTHRUM SALICARIA) - rivers, canals, ponds, wet woods

Many red-purple flowers in spikes



'Fringed Waterlily' (NYMPHOIDES PELTATA) - yellow flowers, lobes fimbriate-ciliate

Leaves floating, orbicular, deeply cordate at base - ponds and slow rivers

Druce, 'Flora of Buckinghamshire' (1926) found it locally common in the still pools of the Thames



Hemp Agrimony (EUPATORIUM CANNABINUM) - at fruiting stage; heads in dense corymbs

Found in marshes, streamsides and wet woods; pappus whitish; mature seeds blackish

Stem leaves 3-5 partite with toothed segments



Joseph Chadwell beside Bulrush (also known as Great Reedmace) TYPHA LATIFOLIA

Growing in a pond in Ditton Park, Langley



Celery-Leaved Buttercup (RANUNCULUS SCELERATUS); upper leaves sessile, narrow segments

Petals pale yellow; seeds (achenes) visible on back-board

Lower-leaves long-stalked, the lowest (not shown) palmately 3-lobed



Great Hairy Willow-herb (EPILOBIUM HIRSUTUM) prominent 4-lobed white stigma



Persicaria, Redshank (POLYGONUM PERSICARIA)

Pink flowers in a dense inflorescence

Found beside a ditch - also common on cultivated ground and waste places