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Monday, September 20, 2010
Loretta is here for a few days. (Tomorrow I'll probably do some family pics), but today we went for a walk at Ludington State Park. As we were crossing the boardwalk at the edge of Lost Lake, I noticed these spiral submerged plants. The pictures are fuzzy and dark because the plant is completely under the water surface.
Now, this really bugs me, because this is my area of expertise, wetland plants. But I don't know what this is! And, I haven't been able to find it.
As you can see the stem is tightly spiraled, and the plant is growing completely underwater. The water here was about a foot deep. I went looking for cultivars that might have escaped, or new invasives that I haven't heard of. The only two tightly corkscrewed aquatic plants that I could find are Variegated Corkscrew Rush, Juncus effusus, "Frenzy," or Corkscrew Rush, Juncus decipiens. I couldn't find where either of these will grow completely submerged.
But then I realized that this plant is probably not a rush. Can you see the funny thickened end of each stalk? It's a straight extension of the curly part. I've never known any rush that grows like that.
Finally, look at what is on the end of each of those extensions, There is a little three-petaled flower. One of them is blooming underwater, and the other has just broken the surface. So this can't be a Juncus at all. They don't flower that way. This is some actual flowering plant.
I may have to email the park naturalist.
Update: 2011- This is Vallisneria spiralis, spiral vallis, or eelgrass. The leaves are tapelike, but the flower stalk grows in this tight spiral with the small three-petaled flower on the end.