Stratiotes Aloides, More Commonly Known As Water Soldiers
Water Soldiers also known as Water Pineapples, are native to Europe and North West Asia. These gems are extraordinary looking with serrated Cactus like looking leaves, and white flowers that appear in the leaf axels throughout July to August. They are at their happiest and will thrive in cool, nutrient rich ponds in semi-shade, so will do best in natural, clay bottomed ponds, where their needs will be much better provided for. During the summer months, they half emerge from the water surface looking very much like floating Pineapple plants.
Although in fact, they are classified as ‘Free floating plants,’ they should realistically, be catagorized as ‘Submerged pond plants’ as they suspend themselves from a 3 – 4ft long root, that anchors itself into the bottom of the pond to feed on the nutritious sediment. Water Soldiers thrive under the water surface and will in fact, spend half of their lives submerged in this way.
During late spring and summer, they will provide excellent surface cover for all breeding Newts and Ramshorn Snails. During the autumn when the weather changes slightly, they will sink back down into the muddy, silted bottom of the pond where they will rest for the winter. These now dormant mother plants will then produce baby plants on runners that will gradually mature into the adult plants, and these will slowly rise back up to the water surface during the spring months on their long suspended roots thus, repeating their life cycle all over again.