The plant has oblong, floating dark-green leaves. It produces white flowers in the spring and fall that have a sweet, almost vanilla-like scent.
The leaves are not used, but the buds and flowers are.
The flowers star in a Cape of South Africa speciality, Water Hawthorn Stew (Waterblommetjiebredie) made with lamb or mutton, onion, and potatoes. The flowers can also be used in pickles and salads.
You can buy the flowers, canned
The plant is a vigorous self-seeder. Its seed floats on the surface of the water, and germinates. It can also be grown from tubers. If the ponds they are growing in dry out in the summer, the plant will spring up again from its tubers in the autumn when the rains come again.
Water Hawthorn is now being cultivated. It was traditionally gathered from the wild.
1 400g can, drained = 300g, fresh
The Afrikanns name, “waterblommetjies”, means “little water flowers.”
Water Hawthorn is also called Vleikos and “Wateruintjie” (meaning “water onion”) in Afrikaans.