Luronium natans is a species of aquatic plant commonly known as the floating water-plantain. It is the only recognized species in the genus Luronium, endemic to western and central Europe. Luronium is a member of the basal monocot family the Alismataceae and itself is a basal lineage within the family. The families fossil record dates as far back as the late Cretaceous.
L. natans is native to the UK and is protected by UK and European law under Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive, Appendix I of the Bern Convention, Schedule 4 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations 1994, and Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. It is also listed as UK priority BAP species and the current distribution is restricted to less than 100 hectads in the UK and therefore it is classed as nationally scarce. The main stronghold for the species is in the oligotrophic lakes of central Wales and Cumbria, as well as some canals in Wales and Shropshire. Due to its, often, deep-water habit, L. natans is easily overlooked and although this may have resulted in it being under-recorded in some locations, there is also evidence of it having been lost from some lowland sites in recent years.
Floating water-plantain L. natans occurs in a range of freshwater situations, including nutrient-poor lakes in the uplands (mainly referable to 3130 Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-Nanojuncetea) and slowly-flowing lowland water bodies.
In Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, L. natans was first recorded in 1848, and more recently is known to have been relatively common with records from at least 4 distinct locations reported by Andy Jones in 1997. Survey data since 1997 was less complete until the most recent complete site survey commissioned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
Llyn Padarn is a glacially formed lake in Snowdonia, Gwynedd, north Wales, and is an example of a moraine dammed lake. The lake is approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) long (about 240 acres) and at its deepest point is 94 feet (29 m) deep; it is one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. Llyn Padarn was Wales’s first designated freshwater bathing lake and is used extensively for fresh water recreational activities.
This project aims to bring into cultivation several individuals of the Llyn Padarn ecotype of this species for both educational and conservation purposes. The plants will form part of the botanical collection at FossilPlants.
The people of Llanberis, on the western shore of Llyn Padarn, and recreational users of the llyn, maybe aware of the scientific importance of the lake, through information in the mainstream media and initiatives such as ‘Loving Our Lake’ http://www.loving-our-lake.org/ , and the lakes flagship species; Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus) and algal blooms that have occurred in the lake waters historically. They are, however, little aware of the presence of Luronium in the lake and Snowdonia’s global importance for this species.
Engagement and interaction have been proven to foster a greater sense of caring towards the natural environment and individual species within it. Due to its aquatic nature, as with the Arctic Char, Luronium is not an easy species to physically show people in its natural environment. However, other members of its family, Alismataceae, are easily grown as a garden pond plants and Floating Water plantain has proven to be no different. Thus, the species has potential to make a good subject to facilitate engagement and foster awareness of the Llyn Padarn SSSI and the environmental importance of Snowdonia’s upland lakes.
FossilPlants aims to facilitate engagement with this species, by the local community and lake users, through cultivation of Luronium and the creation of a number of educational activities and resources surrounding it. The plants will also be utilised in education on the ecology of North Wales with visiting students and scientists, from institutions across Britain and Europe.
FossilPlants also aims to produce a cultivation protocol for the species; as per the guidelines of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation. This protocol would provide background information that could inform potential future restoration or translocation initiatives.