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Pistia stratiotes

Pronunciation: Pees-tee-uh stra-tee-oh-tees
Family: Araceae (arum family)
Common Name: Water-lettuce, shell-flower
Plant Type:
  • grasses
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Waterlettuce is a floating water plant with 6 in (15 cm) rosettes of ribbed, ruffles potato chip-like leaves. The rosettes are connected by stolons that break easily. The leaves are fleshy-thick, pale green and velvety-hairy, which causes water to bead and keeps them from getting wet. The feathery roots are white, purple and black, and quite showy, hanging down a foot or so below the floating rosettes. Waterlettuce frequently forms solid mats on the water's surface and can become a serious pest.
Propagation: Waterlettuce propagates vegetatively by growing stolons (stemlike shoots) which produce new rosettes. Seeds are produced in the tropics and these are said to be easy to germinate. Waterlettuce apparently does not flower in florida, perhaps because an essential pollinator is not present.
Notes for Identification: Waterlettuce is difficult to maintain in artificial conditions. It can be grown in tropical or heated aquaria with a glass cover and full sunlight, or in a greenhouse pool. The air must be at least 75º (24ºc) degrees and permanently humid above the water. Waterlettuce can be grown in a temperate water garden, but must be lifted before frost and overwintered on damp sand or peat at no colder than 50 º (10ºc).  
Located in: Grasses
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