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Marsilea macropoda (Bigfoot water-clover)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Marsilea macropoda

Marsilea macropoda Engelm. ex A. Braun

Bigfoot Water-clover, Water-clover, Clover-fern, Largefoot Pepperwort

Marsileaceae (Water-Clover Family)


USDA Symbol: MAMA9

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Bigfoot Water-clover is a robust perennial which forms large mats in wet sands and mud. Attractive, four-leaf clover-like leaves stand erect to 10 in. in height. These leaves are downy textured when young, and stay green except for a short time in winter. This is a spore-producing plant and is thus more closely allied with the ferns than with perennial forbs.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Size Notes: 6-10 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.


USA: AL , FL , LA , TX
Native Distribution: Rio Grande Plains to Victoria, Austin, and edge of Edwards Plateau. Apparently endemic to Texas.
Native Habitat: Mud or sandy soil and water of swamps, marshes, woodland bogs, ditches, streams, and on the edge of ponds and lakes.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Aquatic: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Wet or poorly drained sand or loam (mud). Sand, sandy loam, medium loam, clay loam.
Conditions Comments: Needs less water when it grows in more shade.


Use Ornamental: Bigfoot Water-clover can be used as a groundcover. Good for wetland gardens and habitats.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate


Propagation Material: Root Division
Maintenance: Very aggressive, so thin it out when desired. Cut it back whenever it looks untidy; the lush growth will quickly return.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Ground cover for partly sunny, wet area in Cypress, TX
March 19, 2007
I am in need of a ground cover to plant in an area close to our entryway. The area is shady to partly sunny, holds water in rainy weather, and has a shrub border. We are in Texas. Any ideas? Thank...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: OBL OBL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Marsilea macropoda in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Marsilea macropoda in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Marsilea macropoda


Record Modified: 2020-10-28
Research By: TWC Staff

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