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Short-leaved Water Starwort

Callitriche truncata

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Plant Profile

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

Green, no petals
Greenish flowers, no petals. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous.
Small, globular fruit, up to 2mm across. The fruit are not winged as with some species of Water Starwort.
The leaves are elliptical and widest at the base. All of the leaves are submerged.
Other Names:
Southern Water Starwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Callitriche truncata, also known as short-leaved water starwort, is a species of plant in the family Plantaginaceae. It is an annual or occasionally perennial herb, growing in rivers, canals, ditches, lakes and gravel-pits, typically in base-rich substrates in shallow water. It has a self-supporting growth form and its leaves are typically rounded. It is native to western Europe and the Mediterranean. It is very similar to Callitriche hermaphroditica L., and the two can be distinguished by the sessile fruits and wider mericarp of C. truncata.


Short-leaved Water Starwort (Callitriche truncata) is a species of aquatic plant found in slow-moving or still waters of Europe and North America. This versatile and hardy species can grow in a variety of habitats, from ponds and rivers to marshes and swamps, and is often found in the company of other aquatic plants such as water lilies and reeds.

One of the defining characteristics of Callitriche truncata is its delicate and feathery leaves, which are usually only a few centimeters long. These leaves are a rich green color and are arranged in a rosette pattern around the stem of the plant. The leaves are also covered in tiny, hair-like projections that give the plant a velvety appearance and help it to cling to rocks and other underwater surfaces.

Another key feature of Callitriche truncata is its small, inconspicuous flowers. These flowers are usually white or pale pink and have only a few petals each. They grow in clusters on short stems that rise above the water surface and are often obscured by the plant's leaves. Despite their small size, the flowers of this species are important food sources for many aquatic insects, including bees and butterflies.

One of the benefits of growing Callitriche truncata is its ability to help control water pollution. Like many aquatic plants, this species is able to absorb excess nitrogen and other pollutants from the water, thus helping to maintain the health of the surrounding ecosystem. Additionally, the dense mats of vegetation formed by Callitriche truncata can provide shelter and habitat for a wide range of aquatic animals, from insects and snails to frogs and small fish.

If you're interested in growing Callitriche truncata in your own aquatic garden, it's important to choose the right location. This species prefers shallow, still water and does best in partial or dappled shade. It can also be grown in containers, which makes it a good choice for small ponds or water features.

Overall, Short-leaved Water Starwort is a valuable and attractive addition to any aquatic garden, and its ability to help control water pollution and provide habitat for wildlife make it an important species to consider for anyone interested in conserving and restoring aquatic ecosystems.

Callitriche truncata is also known to be a popular ornamental plant for aquascaping, due to its low maintenance needs and its attractive appearance. This species can be planted in large clusters, creating a lush, green carpet on the water's surface. The plant is also ideal for use in naturalistic water gardens, where it can be used to create a habitat for various aquatic animals and help to create a balanced ecosystem.

In terms of care, Callitriche truncata is a very low-maintenance plant that can grow in a range of water conditions. It does well in water that is slightly acidic to neutral and does not require fertilization. The plant will grow best in water that is well-oxygenated and free of pollutants, so it is important to maintain good water quality in the area where it is grown.

Propagation of Callitriche truncata is very easy, and it can be done either by division or by seed. If dividing the plant, simply separate the rosettes of leaves from the parent plant and replant them in the desired location. If planting by seed, simply scatter the seeds on the surface of the water and wait for them to germinate.

Callitriche truncata is a versatile, hardy, and attractive species of aquatic plant that can be grown in a variety of habitats and conditions. Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, an aquatic gardener, or an aquascaper, this species is definitely worth considering for your next project. With its delicate leaves, its ability to control water pollution, and its ability to provide habitat for aquatic wildlife, Callitriche truncata is sure to add value to any aquatic environment.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological value, Callitriche truncata also has some potential medicinal uses. According to traditional herbal medicine, extracts of this plant have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and respiratory problems. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal properties of Callitriche truncata, and that the plant should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment.

Despite its many benefits, Callitriche truncata is considered a threatened species in some areas, and its populations have declined due to habitat loss, water pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. To help protect this important species, it is important to practice sustainable water management practices, such as reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and to take steps to restore degraded aquatic habitats.

In conclusion, Callitriche truncata is a remarkable species of aquatic plant that offers a range of benefits for both people and wildlife. Whether you're an aquatic gardener, an aquascaper, or just someone who appreciates the beauty and diversity of nature, this species is sure to leave a lasting impression. So if you're looking to add some variety to your aquatic garden or to help protect this important species, consider planting some Short-leaved Water Starwort.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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