Common Name: Water lettuce
Scientific Name: Pistia stratiotes L.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Plant type: Floating
Plant length: 2-15cm / 0.75-6in
Root Length: 50cm / 19.7in
Pistia stratiotes is a free-floating aquatic with feathery roots that can reach up to 50 cm (19.7 in.) in length. The fleshy leaves of this plant are arranged in a rosette and measure 2-15 cm (0.75-6 in.) in length. The leaves are green to grayish-green, and have dense white hairs and parallel veins on their surface. As its common name indicates, the plant resembles a floating head of lettuce. Pistia stratiotes flowers in the late summer, but the flowers plant are small and inconspicuous. The male and female flowers are arranged in an inflorescence type known as a spadix, with 6-8 male flowers in a single whorl around the center and one female flower below. The spathe, a bract-like leaf surrounding the spadix, is white to pale green, glabrous on the inside and pubescent on the outside. The fruits of this plant are light green berries that contain light brown seeds that are cylindrical in shape and measure 1 mm (0.04 in.). Page References Bailey 180, Magee & Ahles 306. See reference section below for full citations.
Pistia stratiotes reproduces primarily vegetatively by means of daughter plants attached to stolons. The daughter plants have the potential to break off from the parent plant and be moved via water currents or boats to start new populations. It can also reproduce sexually via seeds.
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