A closer look at Frogbit

07 March 2021 | Posted in Barry Yates , Rye Harbour , Plants , Wetland
A closer look at Frogbit
Frogbit in August

Frogbit is a floating plant of freshwater. Its leaves look like a tiny water lily, but the flowers have just three delicate white petals.

During the winter the plant lies dormant at the bottom of the pond or ditch as a 7mm long dormant bud called a "turion" (below)

Frogbit feb 2223515

As daylight increases in  February or March, the turion starts to develop and stands upright, you can just see the outline a the leaves developing inside.

Frogbit mar 3050015

In March these leaves expand out of the protective turion. The first two leaves are ore tiny and on long stalks and seem to act as stabilisers, but the third leaf looks more like a leaf.

Frogbit mar 3060092

The plant soon floats back to the surface where its leaves can capture most light to convert carbon dioxide into larger and many more leaves that float on the surface..

Frogbit mar 3060082

The leaves will expand with large cells that enable it to float and the later leaves will be up to 50mm diameter.

Frogbit leaves may 6276321

Over the summer the leaves can cover the water surface.

Frogbit leaves may 5261728

By July the plant will have grown enough to produce flower stalks and push buds up into the air. 

Frogbit bud aug 8020026

The petals are folded and retain a delicate crumpled effect when in full bloom

Frogbit jul 7224294

Frogbit flower aug 8020063

Each flower has a brief life and if pollinated by insects should produce seeds, but we haven't found any yet!

Frogbit aug 1160361

By late autumn the plant shuts down and sinks to the bottom of the pond or ditch as the dormant bud.

Worldwide there are three species of Hydrocharis, each in Asia, Africa and Europe. Our species is Hydrocharis morsus-ranae  from the Latin morsus - having been bitten and ranae - frog

Frogbit is locally common in the river valleys and coastal grazing marshes of Sussex, but nationally it is considered to be Vulnerable on the Red Data List. It's one of the many plants and animals that we focus our habitat management at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

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