Australian water clover

Australian water clover

Marsilea mutica

Common Name:

Australian water clover

Scientific Name:

Marsilea mutica

Alternative common names:

Banded nardoo, clover fern, and four – leaf clover.


Australian water clover is an aquatic water clover. It has reddish-brown stripes that split the darker green on the top half of the leaflets and the lighter green of the lower half. It reaches 4 to 12cm tall, spreads, and will grow in sun or shade. It also will grow in damp soil. It is very cold hardy - it will take temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1a.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Not currently known from South Africa, but may be present in the ornamental trade.

How does it spread?

Spreads by rhizomes, and by wind and water movement of free-floating €˜rafts' of vegetation.

Why is it a problem?

Forms dense mats on the surface of waterways, and rapidly creeps around the edges of water bodies and wetlands.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Leaves are alternate, simple and green-yellow to red-brown, 130mm wide and two-toned or patterned. Leaves are clover- or shamrock-shaped, flat, soft, long-petioled (if below water) and green. Leaves are basal if grown on land or near water margins.

Flowers: Non-flowering.

Fruit/seeds: Reproduce by means of spores; sporangia produce megaspores and microspores which are produced at base of leaves.

Does the plant have any uses?

Used as an ornamental in garden ponds, aquariums and conservatory pools. It provides shade and shelter for pond fish.

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