Elatine americana (Pursh) Arn.

American waterwort

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

American waterwort inhabits lake and river shores and tidal reaches, usually on muddy substrates and often submerged in shallow water. It is rare in some states, and vulnerable to changes in hydrology.

Habitat

Brackish or salt marshes and flats, lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams), shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
  • green to brown
  • white
Leaf type
the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
  • there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are two petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
  • both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
  • the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Anther tube length
    0 mm
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpel hairs
    the carpels have no hairs
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower appearance
    the flowers appear after the leaves have appeared
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower number
    1
    Flower orientation
    the flower points upwards or is angled outwards
    Flower petal color
    • green to brown
    • white
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    • both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    • the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Inflorescence one-sided
    • NA
    • the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of peduncle
    0 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    2–4
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    • there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are two petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    2–4
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    Petal and sepal colors
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folding in bud
    the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal glandular dots or scales
    no
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are longer than the sepals
    Petal number
    2–3
    Petal tip shape
    the petal tip is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    NA
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    green to brown
    Sepal number
    2–3
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is eliiptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    Sepal texture
    the sepals are either very thin but flexible, like a membrane, or they are leaf-like in texture
    Sepal tip shape
    the sepal tip is obtuse (is bluntly pointed)
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    • the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    • the sepals are separate from one another
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Surface of ovary
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    the capsule has no prominent ribs or wings
    Capsule splitting
    the capsule splits by four main valves, teeth or pores
    Carpel beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is at least somewhat flattened
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit locules
    • four
    • three
    • two
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is spherical
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Ovary stipe length
    0 mm
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed relative length
    the seed is longer than it is wide
    Seed surface
    the seed has pits or depressions on it
    Seeds comose
    no hairs
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    the plant lives only a single year or less
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    the petiole has no hairs on it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    2.8–15 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is spatulate (spoon-shaped; narrow near the base, then suddenly widening to a rounded tip)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade has a fleshy or spongy texture
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the major veins of the leaf blade branch, but do not rejoin
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf blade width
    1.5–5 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf hair orientation
    NA
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Leaf tufts in axils
    there are no clusters of smaller leaves growing out of axils
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf types
    There is a gradual change in appearance of the leaves from the base (or near the base) of the plant to those from further up on the stem, with leaves progressively changing as one moves higher on the stem (often becoming shorter, or less toothed/lobed, and/or with shorter petioles).
    Leaf variation
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaflet petiolules
    NA
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • brackish or salt marshes and flats
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem nodes swollen
    the stem is not swollen at the nodes
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
unrankable (S-rank: SU)
Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
New Hampshire
historical (S-rank: SH), endangered (code: E)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (code: C)
Vermont
historical (S-rank: SH)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Elatine minima:
seeds all set at approximately the same level within the capsule, with round-ended areoles that +/- meet the ends of adjacent areoles, therefore the longitudinal ridges of the seeds relatively distinct, and flowers with 2 sepals and stamens (vs. E. americana, with seeds set at different levels in the capsule, with angular-ended areoles that dove-tail with and alternate with the ends of the other areoles, therefore the longitudinal ridges of the seeds relatively less conspicuous, and flowers usually with 2 sepals and 2 stamens).
Elatine triandra:
leaf blades linear to lanceoate or narrow-lanceolate, truncate or retuse at the apex, and seeds borne throughout the length of the central axis of the capsule, +/- horizontally spreading (vs. E. americana, with leaf blades obovate to broad-spatulate, usually rounded at the apex, and seeds borne from the lower half of the central axis of the capsule, ascending).

Synonyms

  • Elatine triandra Schkuhr var. americana (Pursh) Fassett

Family

Elatinaceae

Genus

Elatine

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Elatine americana (Pursh) Arn. N

American waterwort. Elatine triandra Schkuhr var. americana (Pursh) Fassett • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Lake shores, river shores, including tidal reaches, typically on muddy substrate, frequently submerged in shallow water.