Q: What can you tell me about the field of water lilies in Mississippi River near the Village of East Davenport? They’re beautiful. Did someone plant them, does anyone take care of them, how long have they been there?
— David, Davenport
A: We turned to Bob Clevenstine, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who tells us the patch of American lotus, a native wetland plant with the formal name of Nelumbo lutea, has been there a long time and is in an ideal location to grow on its own without any help.
“The relatively stable water levels in Pool 15 and the shallow sediment above the (Lindsay Park Yacht Club) marina provide ideal conditions for development and maintenance of a lotus bed,” he said.
The plant reproduces both by seed and rhizome, a sideways root such as that of an iris.
“So, they are really self-sustaining. You’ve seen the seedheads in dried flower arrangements — a 3-4-inch showerhead-looking thing with marble-size seeds in the pockets. These seedheads break off and float away to disperse seed as they decay. You can find them along the riverbank in the fall and winter.”
He adds, “They are kind of interesting in that when the seeds germinate, they don’t put a root down, they grow a stem to the surface and develop the first pad. Then just below the surface, that stem branches laterally, then up again to the surface. The seed is just hanging there in the sediment until the rhizome matures.”
He notes there’s a difference between the lotus and water lilies.
There also are areas with white water lilies on the Illinois River and farther north on the Mississippi River. Lotus pads are entire circles, while water lilies are split back to the stem. Lily pads can get up to a foot across, while lotus can be more than twice that size. The lotus flower is cream to yellow, while lilies are whiter. There are yellow water lilies, but if there are any around they’ve been introduced, he believes.
“Lotus beds throughout the river took big hits in the 1993 flood — they were all stem and minimal pad. With no significant pad area, they were unable to gather sun and store energy. Without the energy reserves, many beds haven’t come back to their pre-’93 extent,” he said.
Q: Are there any Trader Joe’s grocery stores around this area or any plans to open here?
— Doreen, Bettendorf
A: A representative for Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s said there are currently no plans on bringing a store to the Quad-Cities. The closest stores are in Des Moines, Chicago area and Madison, Wis. For a list of upcoming store openings, you can go to traderjoes.com.
(Answers provided by Times reporters Barb Ickes and Doug Schorpp.)