WATER GERMANDER, TEUCRIUM
M . G . RUTTERFORD, F . L . S .
ON 27th July, 1976, there was a very hot dry evening and two plant hunters set out to try and discover the Fringed Water Lily, Limnanthemum nymphoides L., which some years ago grew in good numbers along Lakenheath Lode, and which until the cutting of the flood relief Channel was the main drainage system. Now much of the old lode has been filled in, hence the disappearance of this flower; the small remaining portion failed to produce the plant sought. However, on the way back a remarkable piece of fen was noticed. This they decided to explore, especially two lower parts, which with normal rainfall would have been under two or three feet of water. These were, now owing to three, mild, dry, winters and severe drought, completely dry and cracked, some cracks being four inches wide and almost two feet deep, making Walking hazardous. On these dried up places were the beautiful aromatic Watermint, Mentha aquatica L., Chenopodium species and Golden Dock, Rumex maritimus L., the first time these have been seen here. How long have their seeds lain dormant? For these ponds have not been dry since the drought of 1921, and most likely not then. The only other place they had been seen was around the meres on Wretham Heath in Norfolk. T h e whole fen was a riot of colour with Yellow Loostrife, Lysimachia vulgaris L., Purple Loostrife, Lythrum salicaria L., Meadow Sweet, Filipendula vulgaris, Brookweed, Samolus valerandi, etc. After passing through all this, suddenly they came to a slightly higher ledge of Phragmites, and Sallows, etc., and in a small Clearing Stanley Rutterford noticed a nice patch of pink flowered, calamint type of plant. The site was somewhat wrong for Calamint, and so they examined it closer, especially the leaves, and thought it could possibly be the Water Germander, a plant which they had looked for during many years. Each took a small specimen home, and after Consulting the flora, feit fairly confident it was the above. Mrs. G. Crompton, a clever botanist and recorder, took a specimen the next morning to the Botanic Garden, Cambridge, and confirmed the above. In Henslow and Skeppers, Flora of Suffolk, 1860, they recorded Teucrium scordium at Lakenheath as very rare. Hind in his Flora of Suffolk, 1889, questions this record for Suffolk, since he was unable to find the original authority for it. A Mr. F. R. Eagle, of high repute, who lived in Lakenheath Hall at that time, most likely had land somewhere near the Teucrium scordium site, he could possibly have sent a specimen to Henslow. Unless a herbarium specimen under his name comes to light, nothing can be proved of the 1860 report.
Thus the hunters' find looks to be the first confirmed record for Suffolk, very little of the plant being elsewhere, one record for Cambridgeshire and one for Devonshire, although it is fairly plentiful around the limestone pavement country in S. W. Ireland. M. G. Rutterford, F.L.S., Drybrook, Undley Road, Lakenheath, Suffolk.