A rare pond plant is, just that – rare. Being a rarity, these days, it will probably means that is will be protected by state or even federal law and, were you to go in search of a specimen of it, you could end up in trouble with the law.
So whilst the following examples of pond plants are mainly rare and protected pond plants, meaning you mustn’t just take them from the wild – you may be able to buy species of them from your local garden aquatic centers or stores. Where there is a known natural rarity of any of these plants, it has been stated.
Orontium Aqaticum, the Golden Club, is rare and a species of special concern in Connecticut. A member of the Arum family it grows to a height of 2 feet above the water line and likes marginal conditions that are muddy. It has a small cluster of broad tong like green leaves and in the springtime it produces tiny yellow flowers, on top of a central white and yellow stalk. This is a very useful plant for providing shade in which young water-lilies can grow.
Water-lilies are, of course, the most un-rare of pond plants. However, expensive species of them are rarer, such as Nymphaea ‘Pink Sensation’. With an individual leaf diameter of 10 inches and growing to cover a diameter of about 4 feet, you’ll need a fair sized pond to accommodate this water-lily if it’s not managed.
The flower itself is 5 to 6 inches in diameter pink in color and has a slight fragrance to it. The flower can bloom anytime during the day, but unless you have a south facing pond, expect the flowers to be at their best in the afternoon. Strongly in favor of this pond plant is that it is a ‘hardy plant and flowers freely. When fully grown the leaves are green, but newly growing leaves have a pleasant purplish-green color.
The ‘long beak bald rush’, Rhynchospora Scirpoidesl is a rare pond plant in the truest sense of the term. It is a slender sedge that will grow to slightly more than a foot tall in pond margins that have few, if any, other plants growing in them; which is why it is a rare pond plant. It has chestnut brown flowers in July, which quickly turn to fruits. Known to once grow as far south as Florida and Texas, this plant is now classed as rare and endangered even as far north as Massachusetts.
A rare pond plant in the South is the swaying bulrush – Schoenplectus Subterminalis. This rush likes deep water and, depending where you are it could be of special concern, endangered or even classed as rare. Capable of reaching 8 feet in height their seeds are a valuable food source for the local bird population.
The wonderfully named Virginia sneezeweed – Helenium Virginicum – is related to the Sunflower and likes living in poorly drained acidic ponds that usually have annually varying water levels; such as sinkhole ponds in limestone areas.
Although it prefers shallow water it can survive being submerged; and occasional total submersion might actually be an important part of its natural life cycle. Growing in clusters up to about 18 inches high it produced small yellow flowers, whose heads used to be ground to make a snuff – which unsurprisingly made people sneeze.
See Also: Goldfish Pond Plants
Image:USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 347.