Marsilea

Family: Marsileaceae
Common Name: Nardoo, Water Clover

There are about 65 species of these aquatic or bog ferns, some of them floating plants, that bear a strong resemblance to clover. They are non-flowering and reproduce from spores. Most are native to tropical regions, Africa especially, but several species are originally from Australia. A very small number occur naturally in Europe. Although most are grown in pools, some species can be grown in the ground or in containers, in constantly wet soil or potting mix.

Species

M. angustifolia, narrow leaf nardoo, is a small species that needs to be grown in shallow water.

M. drummondii, common nardoo, has pretty leaves that may be russet-toned when grown in shallow water, or greener and covered with silvery hairs if grown in boggy ground. This and other species can be grown in a container, provided it is placed in a deep saucer of water to keep the growing medium quite damp.

M. mutica, rainbow nardoo, has the most colourful foliage of all. It is a rich green, patterned in crimson and deep ochre. This species can be grown in water of almost any depth but will not adapt to cultivation in the ground.

Cultivation

In climates prone to frost, grow Marsilea in a warm conservatory or greenhouse. It can be grown in water of almost any depth, but does well in quite shallow pools. It can be planted directly into silt at the bottom of a pond or in a container placed in a pond. It can also be grown in permanently boggy ground. The plant's colour and appearance will vary depending on its growing conditions. It will grow in sun or shade. Marsilea is generally propagated by division, but in nature its natural increase is from spores.

Climate

Warmer parts of zone 9 or zone 10.

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