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Marsilea vestita (Hairy water-clover)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Marsilea vestita

Marsilea vestita Hook. & Grev.

Hairy Water-clover, Hairy Waterclover, Hairy Water Clover, Clover Fern

Marsileaceae (Water-Clover Family)

Synonym(s): Marsilea fournieri, Marsilea minuta, Marsilea mucronata, Marsilea tenuifolia, Marsilea uncinata, Marsilea vestita ssp. tenuifolia, Marsilea vestita ssp. vestita, Marsilea vestita var. mucronata

USDA Symbol: mave2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Small aquatic or wetland plant, forming dense colonies in mud or shallow water. Leaves produced on long petioles, 2 to 20 cm.

Marsilea vestita looks like a four-leaf clover, but is really a relative of ferns. Bright green leaves are lush in moist soil or a pond. Grows very vigorously and may become a nuisance if not kept in check. Try it in a pot without drainage holes and keep moist. If foliage becomes dried or brown, cut it back. New growth regenerates quickly if kept moist. It is less aggressive and has smoother leaves than Marsilea macropoda.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Size Notes: Up to about 8 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Non-flowering, sporulating plant. Sporulates Apr - Oct.


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , FL , IA , ID , KS , LA , MN , MS , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , SK
Native Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatachewan south through much of the western and southeastern United States to Mexico. Western South America. In Texas, rare on the Edwards Plateau, in Travis county in the Blackland prairies, and in the south part of the plains country.
Native Habitat: On the edge of lakes, in shallow beds of creeks, and in periodically inundated depressions.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Aquatic: yes
Cold Tolerant: yes


Use Ornamental: Good in water gardens, but should be potted to keep it in bounds.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate


Propagation Material: Root Division
Maintenance: If becomes too aggressive, thin it out. If foliage becomes dried or brown, cut it back. New growth regenerates quickly if kept moist.

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

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

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 1122 Collected Feb 22, 1995 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-01-26
Research By: NPIS, ADA, LAL

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