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Water Willow – Justicia Americana
The Many Attributes Of Water Willow PLants
The extremely common water willow is mostly tropical plant that contains more than 2,500 species around the world. Often found around shorelines in dense colonies, these plants grow to about 3 feet. The tree's long, tapered leaves resemble the willow tree, hence the name water willow. The plants can be found as far North as Ontario and Quebec, Canada and as South as Texas and over to Florida. While the water willow is found in shallow waters during the summer season, they can be found in abundance around rivers and streams. The water willow's tapered leaves can grow up to 6 inches and are identifiable by the whitish streaks. The five-petaled flowers are purple and violet. The blooms grow between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter.
Water willows are known to spread rapidly around shorelines. Water willow colonies are often massive and can grow up to 1,000 square feet at a given time. The underwater part of the plant provides excellent cover and habitats for invertebrates. Once these invertebrates cluster within the underwater portion of the plant, it is an excellent food source for fish, reptiles and even ducks. As the circle of life completes, the bacteria and fungi inside the decomposing water willow provides food for invertebrates.
Depending upon the location, water willows flower between June and September. The flowers are pollinated by bees and butterflies during the peak season. Many animals love the densely-packed water willows. Critters like beaver, muskrat and even deer will munch on the plant's rhizomes. Water willows do very well in full sunlight. While it can thrive in any type of soil, the plants seem to grow best in sandy or rocky soils. The plants are a fantastic addition to any property, especially around rock ponds.
It is a fast grower and loves moist soils. Water willow is found along shorelines and is also found in ponds, lakes, and streams. This plant will thrive in rocky and sandy soil. The Water willow will produce a white flower with purple markings on them. This plant will bloom in mid-summer, and the blooms will be 1/2 to 1/4 inch.