Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The water chinquapin is in a different family from true water lilies and can be distinguished in part by its leaves. Water chinquapin's two foot diameter leaves are round with no break at any point and with the stem centered so that they sometimes resemble an umbrella that has been inverted by the wind. Its waxy yellow flowers can be nearly a foot in diameter and its hard black seeds can exceed half an inch in diameter. Found from Ontario to Texas and southcentral Florida, the water chinquapin thrives in shallow lakes and backwaters of streams. At the center of each yellow flower is the pistil, a female reproductive structure. This is very large and has tiny openings that make it look like the top of a salt shaker. After pollination, the pistil further increases in size as the seeds inside grow. When mature, the dried pistil looks like a shower head and holds about twenty seeds. The pods are often used in dried flower arrangements. In nature, the dried pods fall into the water and disintegrate to release the seeds. These can lie dormant for decades, even hundreds of years until the conditions are just right for growth.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.