The roots of the white water lily Nymphaea alba, extracted from the mud at the bottom of lakes, were once used to dye tweed ‘black, blue or dark brown’, and mixed with leaves to make a poultice (Scots Herbal).
Nymphaea alba is striking plant where it finds a place to expand in shallow lochs in open water between patches of reeds and sedges. The plants in the photographs above were growing in water at least one metre deep. They began flowering in early July. The small catchment that fed the loch had been mixed crops and grazing until the 1980s when it was turned to sheep grazing and sitka plantation. Apart from atmospheric deposition, the only pollutants were from animal dung and the annual sheep dip. Entry and outflow streams are crystal clear.
The metallic sky and water on this day recalled images of Tasek Bera (or Berak ) an inland expanse of water and swamp in Malaysia. Travel was by dugout and accommodation a small tent by the water’s edge: swimming in the dark water, paddling dugouts and exploring pandans, pitcher plants and white water lilies. At that time, a system in balance and now a Ramsar wetland site.
The photographs above taken on a visit in 1984 show (top left clockwise) water lilly, a view to the land surrounding the lake, pitcher plants and pandanus growing in the water, plant species uncertain.
More to follow on Tasek Bera.
Darwin T. 1996. The Scot’s herbal. Mercat Press, new edition 2008 by Berlinn.
Wetlands International web site for Tasek Bera – for information on the lake, plants and people, click the ‘Library’ tag on the site and next to ‘Current publications’ search for Tasek Bera to browse several sources including downloads.