To submerge many a terrestial plant is to drown it, but certain plants are peculiarly fitted to live underwater and cannot survive long elsewhere. In slowly moving streams and broad, shallow swamps there lives the white water crowfoot, a member of the Buttercup clan, whose entire plant, all but the flowers, is submerged.
Ranunculus trichophyllus Chaix.
June Swamps, lakes.
In needing sunlight and air for blossoming, the white water crowfoot admits its kinship with land plants. Although it needs water for its roots, stems, and leaves, the flowers must rise on tall stems above the surface of the water in order to bloom and make seeds.
The flowers look like glistening white buttercups. They are scattered like shining stars over the bright water and invite flying insects which come to pollinate them. The centers of the white flowers are clustered thickly with stamens around a compound greenish center of many pistils, where the seeds form. This is the ancient pattern of the pre-historic buttercup, ancestor of all other flowers.
The ripe seeds fall into the water and sink to the mud. Here they germinate, send out roots into the ooze, send up stems with finely cut. water-loving leaves, and, at last, there come stems which go upward into the sunshine and spread their blossoms in the open air.