IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial plant is a submerged aquatic about 1-3' long. There is more branching of the stems above than below, creating fan-like aggregations of leaves. The stems are up to 1.0 mm. across, light green to nearly white, terete to slightly compressed (flattened), and hairless; they are slender and flexible. The slender leaves are 1½-5" long, up to 1.0 mm. across, and mostly alternate; they are filiform, medium green to olive-green, hairless, and toothless, tapering to acute tips. The leaves are highly flexible and readily bend. At the leaf bases along the stems, there are sheath-like stipules about ½-1½" long and up to 1.0 mm. across; these stipules are connate (wrapping tightly around the stems) below, but they become free toward their tips. Individual spikes of flowers are produced occasionally from the axils of the leaves and the tips of outer stems on peduncles about 1½-8" long. These floral spikes are ½-1½" long, consisting of 2-6 interrupted clusters of flowers. Each greenish white flower is about 1/8" across, consisting of 4 tepals with abruptly tapered bases, 4 stamens, and a pistil with a short style. The stalk of each floral spike is light green to reddish purple, terete, and hairless. Both the floral spikes and peduncles complete their development underwater. The blooming period can occur from late spring to early fall. The submerged flowers are cross-pollinated via water. Afterwards, fertile flowers are replaced by plump achenes about 3-4 mm. long and 2.5-3.0 mm. across. These achenes are obovoid-globoid in shape and slightly compressed with small beaks at their apices. The root system is fibrous, rhizomatous, and tuberous. Clonal colonies of plants are often produced from the rhizomes.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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