Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Among the water lilies in the wetlands of the Florida Gulf Coast University campus is a yellow-flowered species about which I'm frequently asked the same question: “When will the flowers open?” The plant is spatterdock, sometimes also known as 'yellow pond lily' or 'cow lily', and the answer is that those yellow flowers are as open as they ever will be. The flowers of spatterdock are cup-like, appearing like a half-opened bud and usually about an inch in diameter. Each ball-like flower consists of three heavy, waxy, green sepals on the outside and three similar but yellow petals on the inside. The pollen and seed-producing structures are large but hidden down inside. These flowers are often on stalks that extend above the water's surface and depend on flying insects for pollination. Their cup-like structure may well prevent the pollen from being washed away in their pond environment. Spatterdock of different species can be found in wetlands across North America and has played many roles in Native American culture. Its roots are starchy and edible, its seeds are also edible and an important wildlife food. The leaves of spatterdock were often used as a covering for wounds.
'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.