Water germander is similar in appearance to a mint (4), although the flowers are bigger (2). The leaves, which occur in opposite pairs on the stem (2), are covered in soft hairs and smell of garlic when crushed. The pinkish to purple flowers can reach up to 1cm in length, and are produced in small whorls(4).
Water germander is a perennial plant that can spread by means of creeping runners, which can produce roots (3). The flowers appear from June through to October (4), and open habitat patches are needed for germination to occur (3), but flowering and seed production are often poor (1). It is pollinated by bees but may also self-fertilise (2). The plant does not seem to fare very well in particularly hot or dry years (3).
This species was once known from over twenty sites in eastern and central England, but is now known from just 3 UK sites, two in Devon, and the other in Cambridgeshire (3)(1). Elsewhere, the species occurs throughout most of Europe, but is in decline in many countries (3). It is also known from Siberia and the Aral-Caspian area (3).
Occurs in a range of damp habitats such as dune-slacks, ditches, riverbanks (3), fens, ponds, turloughs (flat-bottomed lakes), lake margins (1) and pits on calcareous soil, typically in relatively open areas with short vegetation (3).
The main cause of the decline seems to be the widespread drainage of wet habitats and development that has occurred. Eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) resulting from agricultural run-off is known to seriously affect water germander (3). Scrub encroachment and shading also threaten the species (1).
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