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Water Soldier (Floating
The Water Soldier is a British native plant which looks very like a pineapple top floating in the water. It is also sometimes called Water Aloe. Although they are British natives, they look more like a plant you might find in the tropics. They were once common in East Anglia, but are now rarely found in the wild.
The water soldier is submerged for most of the year and only rises to the surface when it is flowering. The leaves accumulate calcium carbonate over the summer and by the autumn this makes them heavy enough to sink to the bottom of the pond. During the colder winter months, the plant lies dormant on the bottom of the pond, not rising again until late spring. This habit ensures that it is extremely hardy in colder climates! The new leaves in spring do not have the calcium carbonate accumulation and so rise to the surface. They may grow up to 20 inches in diameter.
The plants are dioecious (ie individual plants are either male or female) and so both male and female plants would need to be grown to produce seed. Only the female plant occurs naturally in Britain and so seed is never set naturally in Britain where the plants reproduce by offsets. The three-petalled white flowers appear during summer when the plant is floating on the surface.
The babies appear each year on runners and are comparatively soft leaved. The older plants are sturdy looking with large serrated leaves which can be quite brittle.
All you need to do is drop it in your pond - it is a floating plant and does not need to be potted up. Long white roots do develop on the older plants and will hang down in the water unless it is very shallow when they may anchor into the pond soil.
These plants are of native British origin.