A Bullfrog and his Water Shield

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is an American Bullfrog, looking as though he is waiting for his girlfriend, complete with floral offering.

American Bullfrog

He sounds like this:


The tiny pink flower belongs to a plant named after the shape of its leaf, Water Shield, Brasenia schreberi,


On my  pond  it covers huge areas at this time of year:

Water Shield

The unimposing flowers repay closer scrutiny. Water Shield is pollinated by the wind. The flowers have a two-day blooming period. On the first day, the functionally female flower extends above the surface of the water and exposes the pale pink receptive stigmas.

Water Shield

The flower then recedes below the water surface and on the following day re-emerges as a functionally male flower. It is taller now, and the darker red anther-bearing filaments are extended beyond the female carpels:

Water Shield

The anthers release the pollen, presumably to find a younger female flower, and the flower is then withdrawn below the water where the fruit develops.*

As you can see, they have a clear jelly all around the stalk, which persists as they grow taller. The underside of the leaves is also coated with it. This may be to deter grazing snails, though it doesn’t stop the beetles that eat the leaves from the top!  Despite this jelly, or maybe because of it, the leaves are a delicacy in China.

* This excellent description is paraphrased from Wikipedia. Don’t you love/hate the fact that even in the plant world, older males seek younger females, even if it is only the difference one day makes?

2 thoughts on “A Bullfrog and his Water Shield”

  1. Great photo. Interesting water flower. At the small pond, behind our house, a few weeks ago, almost 6 year old grand-daughter & I were standing on the driveway bridge…most of the water in the swampy pond in the back has hundreds & hundreds of white water lilies, only several in the pond near us…I heard a frog & commented…she said: it’s a bullfrog. Me: if it’s a bullfrog, is there a cow frog? No answer.


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