Pilularia globulifera is a strange fern that may not look very fern-like at first sight.
It can grow on the land or partly or totally submerged in water.
Although the fronds do not look ferny, the plant does have “croziers” which unfurl like other ferns.
It gets its name from the “pills” which tend to develop on the plant when it is growing out of the water. It can have a large number of pills. These pills will vary in colour from yellow-green, through yellow-brown, dark red, brown to black
Pilularia in the New Forest seems to grow in places where there is running water and often where cows or horses have “poached” the ground. It grows in colonies by the edges of streams where the water is relatively still. Occasionally it can be found in pools. It seems to dislike competition but is fast growing. It grows in areas where the water level can vary throughout the year but needs some water. It can look very luxurious when growing just under the water but also can look stressed when the ground dries out. How it survives the winter is a bit of a mystery.
Click here to see a “heat map” of Pilularia in the New Forest
If this interests you at all, please come along to the Wessex group meeting on Saturday August 8th.