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Autumnal Water Starwort

Callitriche hermaphroditica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Callitrichaceae (Water Starwort)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres long
Ditches, ponds, water, wetland.

Green, no petals
Small and insignificant flowers. Greenish-yellow. Water pollinated.
Globular, 2mm wide. The seeds ripen from August to October.
Yellowish-green stems and leaves. All of the leaves are submerged. The leaves are translucent. Usually an annual flower.
Other Names:
Northern Water Starwort, Water Starwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Callitriche hermaphroditica, also known as Autumnal Water-starwort or Northern Water-starwort, is a species of flowering plant belonging to the family Plantaginaceae. It is native to Europe, North America, and western Asia and is found in cold, clean flowing streams and spring ponds in sandy or gravelly soils. The leaves are all submersed and linear-oblong in shape, and the flowers are small, white, and borne on short stems. It is an evergreen perennial and is hardy to UK zone 6.


Autumnal Water Starwort, also known as Callitriche hermaphroditica, is a species of aquatic plant that is found in slow-moving or still water bodies such as ponds, ditches, and canals. This plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa and is also found in parts of North America and Australia as an introduced species.

One of the most unique features of this plant is its hermaphroditic flowers. Unlike most other flowering plants, the flowers of Callitriche hermaphroditica contain both male and female reproductive structures, meaning that each flower is capable of producing both pollen and seeds. This makes the plant self-fertile, which is rare in the plant kingdom.

Autumnal Water Starwort has a simple, yet distinctive appearance. It has narrow leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem, and the leaves are often a bright green color. The plant grows up to 15 cm in height and has small, inconspicuous flowers that are usually greenish-brown or brownish-red in color.

This plant is a vital part of many aquatic ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a variety of aquatic creatures such as insects, crustaceans, and small fish. In addition, the plant helps to regulate water flow and prevent erosion in the areas where it grows.

Despite its ecological importance, the populations of Autumnal Water Starwort are declining in some areas due to habitat loss and water pollution. This plant is considered to be a good indicator of water quality, and a decline in its numbers can signal the presence of pollution or other environmental problems.

Autumnal Water Starwort is a fascinating plant that is worth paying attention to. Its hermaphroditic flowers, unique growth habit, and ecological significance make it a valuable addition to any wetland or aquatic habitat.

In terms of its growth habit, Autumnal Water Starwort is a perennial plant, meaning it can live for several years. It grows from a system of roots and runners that can spread along the bottom of the water body and form large mats of vegetation. The plant is well adapted to life in the water, with leaves that float on the surface and stems that can reach down to the bottom of the water body.

This plant is also very hardy and can survive in a wide range of water conditions, from clean and clear streams to stagnant and nutrient-rich ponds. It is also able to tolerate changes in water levels, which makes it an ideal plant for wetlands and other water bodies that are subject to fluctuations in water levels.

In terms of its cultural significance, Autumnal Water Starwort has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. For example, in some cultures, the plant was used as a herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, and it was also used as a food source by some indigenous peoples. In addition, the plant has been used as a bioindicator in water quality assessments, as it is sensitive to changes in water chemistry and can be used to detect the presence of pollutants and other contaminants.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Autumnal Water Starwort is also a popular plant for aquarium hobbyists and pond enthusiasts. Its hardiness and ability to thrive in a wide range of water conditions make it a great plant for both indoor and outdoor aquatic environments.

Autumnal Water Starwort is a fascinating and valuable plant that deserves more attention and recognition. Its unique growth habit, ecological significance, and cultural importance make it an important part of many aquatic ecosystems and a valuable resource for humans.

Autumnal Water Starwort is also a valuable resource for wildlife. The plant provides food and shelter for a variety of aquatic organisms, including insects, crustaceans, and small fish. It also provides a valuable source of cover for young fish and amphibians, which can use the plant as a hiding place from predators.

In addition, the plant can help to improve water quality in the areas where it grows. For example, it can absorb excess nutrients from the water, which can reduce the growth of harmful algae and improve the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem.

Despite its many benefits, Autumnal Water Starwort is facing a number of threats in many areas. One of the biggest threats is the loss of wetland habitats, which are being drained or filled for development or agriculture. Water pollution is another major threat, as the plant is sensitive to changes in water quality and can be used as a bioindicator of water pollution.

To protect and conserve this important plant, it is important to take steps to protect and restore wetland habitats, and to reduce water pollution through best management practices and other measures. In addition, education and awareness efforts can help to raise awareness of the importance of this plant and the need to protect it.

In conclusion, Autumnal Water Starwort is a unique and valuable plant that plays an important role in many aquatic ecosystems. Its ecological significance, cultural importance, and wildlife value make it a valuable resource that deserves our attention and protection. By taking steps to protect this plant and its habitats, we can help to ensure that it continues to provide important benefits for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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