Aquatic herb Flowers: occurring very rarely, borne one or two per plant body, lacking sepals and petals, having one stamen and one nearly smooth seed. Fruit: bladder-like (utricle), thin-walled, 0.3 - 0.4 mm long, containing a single nearly smooth seed. Roots: absent. Plant body: not differentiated into stem and leaves, one to twenty or more grouped in starlike clusters floating just beneath water surface, green with darker pigment cells, 3 - 9 mm long, less than 1 mm wide, narrowly lance-shaped to linear and tapering to a pointed tip, with air spaces in tissue much longer than wide. A triangular cavity at the tip produces daughter plants, while a cavity beside the midvein of the upper surface produces flowers. Flowering plant bodies have much wider bases than non-flowering plant bodies and float on the surface with the tips submersed.
Similar species: The plant body of Wolffiella gladiata is shaped into distinctive star-like clusters, making it easy to distinguish from other species in the Lemnaceae family.
Flowering: spring and fall
Habitat and ecology: Clean, quiet waters.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Wolffiella is a diminutive of Wolffia which is named after J.F. Wolff, German botanist and physician (1778-1806). Gladiata means sword-like.
Thallus falcate or often doubly so, tapering at least distally to a long, slender tip, 4-14 נ0.4-0.7 mm; colonies of numerous thalli commonly coherent at base, submersed or floating with only the base above water, often several together in a tangled mass; 2n=40. Stagnant water; Mass. to n. Ill., s. to Fla. and Tex., more common southward. (W. floridana)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.