Pretty nice. Pretty nasty.

American Lotus bloom

The American Lotus, AKA, “water lily,” sports the largest blossom on the North American continent, its parts are edible and it looks beautiful. If a plant can be an American hero, this one is it. This particular plant is in the wild and wooly part of an otherwise reasonably civilized cypress pond.

I am a firm believer in “beauty-breaks,” those moments when you stop and observe something animal, vegetable, mineral, visual, and/or audible that exudes beauty in some recognizable form or fashion and provides relief from whatsoever might be bugging you at the time.

Flowers fill the bill for needed relief in almost every such instance. This time of year, for this curmudgeon, the American Lotus, AKA “water lily,” is close to the top of the pecking order to be that Balm of Gilead.

Black Eyed Susan flowers

Click the pic to see another American Lotus, a neat Black Eyed Susan picture – and more.

I get a daily dose of American Lotus insight from a colony in a pond I routinely pass. I always look. And it is always cool. The American Lotus has kept many an American belly full when other resources were skimpy. The roots, seeds, stems — and leaves at their tenderest stage are edible. Historians tell us that some Indian tribes depended on the roots as a major source of nourishment.

See another picture of the American Lotus and get in on how this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you peruse the pearls of information on that page.

On the other hand

As one tools southeast on U.S. Highway 65 from Pine Bluff AR, my home stomping grounds, one will eventually pass an impoundment known as Noble Lake. Noble Lake is an ancient oxbow lake, a remnant of the days when it was a river channel. It has been a favorite resource for bank and boat anglers for years.

water hyacinths on noble lake

As you look at the lake you immediately see that the majority of it is covered with beautiful white flowers with purple markings. The beauty is a nasty deception.

While the flowers are visually pleasing, they are a disaster for the lake. These are Water Hyacinths, an invasive and aggressive species introduced to American waters in the late 1800s. They can quickly cover an entire impoundment. At Noble Lake, these nasty critters are not far from doing just that.

In the process, the thick growth of hyacinths block sunlight from native plants, and significantly diminish the supply of oxygen to fish and other aquatic creatures. These nasty plant varmints can throw Mother Nature’s balance out-of-whack in a heartbeat.

invasive water hyacinths

A bit of lake manages to squeeze in-between the massive growth of hyacinths. Call it a natural disaster. Individuals can help curb the spread of this species by making certain boats and motor cooling systems are purged of plant fragments before putting in at another location.

invasive water hyacinth plants

Here the rouge plants go to the banks of the lake and box in a cypress tree.

The Water Hyacinth is a prime example of how an invasive species can upset ecological balance — and while some bad circumstances at a relatively small lake may not peg many concern meters, a little here and a little there can begin to modify and environment. Look at like this, if you like the environment the way it is where you live, it is in your best interest to see than nothing tips the balance in the wrong way.

The environment has a lot of moving parts. Who is to decide what’s important and what’s not?

Dragon fly at Noble Lake

Unlike most wild critters, bugs are pretty cooperative and patient with photographers. Dragonflies are among the most cooperative. This bad boy at Noble Lake stayed put while I changed lenses to get a little closer. A good dragonfly will do that.

Thanks for dropping by and reading through my soapbox diatribe. While I have a great deal of respect for the environment and its denizens, I can tell you this much for sure: I have yet to fathom a reason for skeeters and ticks to exist. And chiggers ain’t far behind.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


One Response

  1. […] At the southeast corner of the junction of I-530 and South Hazel Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, there’s a neighborhood uninhabited with homo sapiens. People are a little further south. The neighborhood I reference includes a perennial colony of American Lotus (AKA water lily) plants. I have watched the colony for a few years. I decided last year to photograph it. […]

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