- A small aquatic plant, it resembles a tuft of grass.
Parker’s pipewort is a small aquatic plant that resembles a tuft of grass. The tuft-like appearance is due to the shape and arrangement of leaves. They are attached in a cluster at the base of the plant, and each leaf tapers to a long point. The flowers appear as whitish-grey buttons, each on a single stalk that is taller than the leaves. However, what we may think of as a single flower is actually a cluster of many tiny flowers. The entire plant is usually less than 10 cm in height.
Parker’s pipewort occurs along the tidal portions of rivers, where the fresh water from the river or nearby streams meets the salt water from the tides. The plants are generally found in the area of shoreline between the average high and low tide marks, which means that they are covered twice daily by high tides. These areas are subject to disturbance from ice and waves, which reduces the survival and competition from other larger plants. The combination of tides, freshwater and disturbance is a relatively uncommon habitat type, and Parker’s pipewort is often found with other species that are rare to New Brunswick. The freshwater from nearby streams appears to be an important aspect of the habitat of Parker’s pipewort. The species could be affected if currents from those streams are diminished by improper culverts, excavations or dumping. The protection of river banks and streams is a simple and effective step in conserving Parker’s pipewort.
In New Brunswick, Parker’s pipewort has been found only along the Miramichi river estuary, at less than a half dozen sites. It also occurs in Quebec (along the St. Lawrence River) and in the eastern United States from Maine to North Carolina.