A rhizomatous perennial which grows in water 0.5-2 metres deep in lakes, ponds, slowly flowing rivers, canals and large fenland ditches. As a native it is a plant of calcareous and eutrophic water. Lowland.
N. peltata had declined as a native in the Thames valley by 1960, but remains frequent in the fenlands of East Anglia. It is popularly grown as an ornamental, and has become widely naturalised from material deliberately planted in the wild or discarded as surplus stock. These records obscure some of the older native occurrences.
Eurasian Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Clonality - secondary
Scarce Atlas Account
Nymphoides peltata Kuntze
This is an aquatic plant, usually found in calcareous, relatively eutrophic water in larger water bodies. It is often found in a broad band along the edges of lakes, slowly flowing stretches of rivers and associated backwaters, fenland lodes and disused canals. Characteristic associates include Ceratophyllum demersum, Elodea nuttallii, Myriophyllum spicatum, Potamogeton crispus, P. pectinatus and P. perfoliatus. It is confined to the lowlands.
N. peltata is a rhizomatous perennial. It is heterostylous, with ‘pin’ and ‘thrum’ flowers on separate plants. Individual flowers last for only a day but colonies flower over a long period. Flowers are visited by a wide range of insects (Velde & Heiden 1981). Plants at some more northerly sites in Britain flower only sparingly. The seeds will stick to the webbed feet and to some parts of the plumage of waterfowl (Cook 1990). Little work has been done on the reproductive biology of this species in Britain.
N. peltata is thought to be native in the Thames valley, where both pin and thrum plants occur, and the East Anglian fenland, where only pin plants occur as natives but a thrum population has recently been found as an introduction. It is an attractive species which has been introduced and become established well outside its native range. It is still regularly planted in sites such as ornamental ponds, in gravel pits managed by anglers and in purpose-made fish ponds which may be far from houses. Studies in areas such as the Romney Marsh, where many aquatics have declined during the current century, show that this is one species which has increased in frequency (Mountford & Sheail 1989).
It is widespread in Europe north to England and the Baltic. It is also found in Asia in temperate latitudes from Turkey to Japan, and occurs as an introduction in North America. For a map of its world distribution, see Meusel et al. (1978).
C. D. Preston
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Atlas text references
Atlas Supp (48c)
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1978. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
1997. Aquatic plants in Britain and Ireland.
1994. Scarce plants in Britain.