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Hydrocharis morsus-ranae

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Hydrocharitaceae (Naiad)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Ditches, ponds, water.

White, 3 petals
Each flower has 3 white petals with a yellow basal spot. The flowers are solitary and measure 2 or 3cm across.
The fruit is globular and berry-like.
A floating aquatic perennial believed by the ancient Greeks to have been eaten by frogs. The leaves are round or kidney-shaped, 3cm in diameter. Grows in still, fresh water.
Other Names:
Common Frogbit, European Frogbit, European Frog's-bit.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Hydrocharis morsus-ranae is a species of flowering plant in the Hydrocharitaceae family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and is commonly known as the European frogbit. It is an aquatic plant that typically grows to between 5 and 20 cm in height, and has small, round leaves and small white flowers. The plant's leaves float on the surface of the water, while the stem and roots are submerged. It is considered as invasive species in many countries and in those cases it forms dense mats that can cover large areas of water surface, limiting light penetration and altering water chemistry which can have negative impact on native aquatic species.


Frogbit, also known by its scientific name Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, is a unique aquatic plant that can be found in freshwater habitats such as ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams. It is a member of the family Hydrocharitaceae, which includes other aquatic plants such as waterweed and duckweed.

Appearance and Characteristics

Frogbit has a distinctive appearance that makes it easy to identify. Its leaves are circular or oval-shaped and have a waxy surface that allows them to float on the surface of the water. The leaves are arranged in a rosette pattern, with a single leaf stalk attaching them to the stem. The stem of frogbit is short and thick, and it is usually hidden under the leaves. The flowers of frogbit are small and white and appear on a slender stalk that rises above the water's surface.

Benefits and Uses

Frogbit is a valuable addition to any freshwater ecosystem as it provides a range of benefits. It helps to improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants, which can reduce the growth of harmful algae and improve the overall health of aquatic life. The plant also provides valuable habitat and food for fish, insects, and other aquatic animals.

In addition to its ecological benefits, frogbit also has a number of practical uses. It is commonly used in aquaculture as a source of food for fish and as a natural filter to help maintain water quality. Frogbit is also used in aquariums as an attractive and low-maintenance plant that can help to control algae growth.

Cultivation and Care

Frogbit is easy to cultivate and care for, making it a popular choice for both amateur and professional aquarists. It can be grown in a range of water conditions, from still water to slow-moving streams. The plant prefers nutrient-rich water, so it is important to provide regular fertilization to ensure healthy growth.

Propagation of frogbit is straightforward and can be done by division or by planting the plantlets that develop at the base of the mature plant. To propagate by division, simply separate the rosettes and replant them in the desired location. Plantlets can be separated from the parent plant once they have developed a few leaves and can be planted directly into the substrate.

In conclusion, frogbit is a valuable and attractive addition to any freshwater ecosystem. Its ability to absorb excess nutrients and pollutants makes it an important tool for improving water quality, and its low maintenance requirements make it a popular choice for aquarists and aquatic gardeners alike. If you are interested in cultivating frogbit, be sure to provide it with the proper care and conditions to ensure healthy growth and a thriving aquatic ecosystem.

More about Frogbit

Frogbit is also known for its ability to quickly multiply and form dense mats on the surface of the water. While this can be beneficial in some cases, as it provides cover for fish and other aquatic animals, it can also become a problem if it becomes too thick and prevents sunlight from reaching the lower layers of the water. This can lead to a decrease in oxygen levels and harm the growth of other aquatic plants and animals.

To prevent frogbit from becoming too invasive, it is important to monitor its growth and take action if necessary. This can include manually removing excess plants, using herbicides, or introducing natural predators such as ducks or snails.

In addition to its ecological and practical uses, frogbit has also been used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties and has been used to treat a range of ailments, from digestive issues to skin disorders.

One interesting aspect of frogbit is its unique pollination method. Unlike many other aquatic plants that rely on water currents to transport their pollen, frogbit is pollinated by bees and other insects that visit its flowers. When a bee lands on a frogbit flower to collect nectar, the flower releases a cloud of pollen that sticks to the bee's body. The bee then carries the pollen to other flowers, allowing for cross-pollination to occur.

Frogbit is also an important food source for a variety of animals. Its leaves and stems are consumed by waterfowl, turtles, and other herbivorous aquatic animals. In addition, the plant's dense mats provide cover and nesting sites for fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals.

In some regions, frogbit has become an invasive species, outcompeting native plants and disrupting the natural balance of aquatic ecosystems. As a result, it is important to be mindful of its growth and take action to control it if necessary.

Overall, frogbit is a fascinating and valuable aquatic plant that offers a range of benefits to both the environment and the people who rely on it. By understanding its unique characteristics and taking steps to manage its growth, we can ensure that it continues to thrive in our freshwater ecosystems for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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