Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mud Pond is Mighty Muddy

Coming home from the river today, I stopped off at Mud Pond to see what waterfowl might be gathering there. Last year we frequently saw (and heard!) Hooded Mergansers, but today there were only Canada Geese. And not that many of them, either. I wonder if the extremely low water levels this year discourage migrating ducks and geese from stopping here. These broad mud flats at the southern end of the pond reveal just how low the water level is.

Those mud flats are covered with masses of these odd little succulent plants. Did these plants spring up just this year, taking advantage of the low water level, or do they normally grow under water? I confess that I haven't a clue what they are, or how they normally grow. Anybody know?

Update: Several knowledgeable friends have weighed in to help ID this LIVERWORT, quite likely the species Ricciocarpus natans, a floating liverwort that during low-water seasons grows profusely on mud flats like the ones I saw at Mud Pond. When spring rains and snow- melt fill the pond, the plants will break free of the soil and float to the surface.

I do know what these plants are: Ditch Stonecrop, a plant I searched for for years, and now I find it just about everywhere there's a damp spot. There were masses of them along these Mud Pond mud flats, their plump little seed pods turned the prettiest russet.

I picked a stem to bring home to observe, and the pods immediately popped open, spilling hundreds of teensy-tiny ivory colored seeds.


Ellen Rathbone said...

What a beautiful liverwort!

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

Oooh, I'm with Ellen. Why do succulents fascinate me so? I love finding them.

Woodswalker said...

Hi Ellen and WoodswomanX, I agree that this is SOME liverwort! I've never seen others as plump and pretty as this. Thanks for stopping by.