Picture Profile 2008: Berula erecta (Lesser water parsnip)

Berula erecta (Lesser water parsnip). Botanical Illustration

Artist Code 2008. Berula erecta (Lesser water parsnip) Completed 27th May 2020. Original water colour on Aquarelle Arches 140lb 100% cotton rag, 12″ x 9″. (50 Limited Edition prints)

Original sold 27 August 2022 at the Cambridge and District Art Circle August Bank Holiday Exhibition, Grantchester, Cambridge.

This little painting of the aquatic plant Berula erecta was produced for book 4 in the River Friend Series I am co-authoring and illustrating with Sylvia M. Haslam entitled “INTERPRET: What do Plants tell us?”, and is published as a colour plate , Figure 30.

This plant is very similar to another aquatic plant, Apium nodiflorum (Fool’s water cress), and the two are very easily confused with one another when submerged new growth appears like a green carpet. It is not until the flowers appear (at different times of the year) that they can easily be distinguished, although Apium nodiflorum is a very robust plant and can sprawl over anything and Berula erecta is a lot more dainty.

Apium-Berula carpet to show how similar the two plants look when growing together

There was plenty of live material around where I live, which was most useful. But I did have to wait several months to complete the two paintings because they flowered at different times – and it was only then that I began to understand their subtle differences, and I like to think the two are now individually identifiable using the text and pictures in the little book.

All aquatic plant species which live along and in the rivers and streams are extremely good indicators of the health and wealth of a waterway and the River Friend Series of little books is intended to help anyone interested in rivers to understand how important are the plants and how, for instance, they are affected by pollution and by the water source drying up. There will be around 17 titles published in time. Please visit the River Friend Website for a list of the latest published titles.

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