Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) – A Native Aquatic Plant

This spring I noticed this green leafy plant growing all over the surface of our small pond. At first I thought it might be some kind of lily but something just didn’t look right. I did some research and discovered that we have a plant called Watershield growing in our pond. It’s pretty common and you may have seen it before!

A pond with much of the surface covered by young watershield.

Watershield is an aquatic plant is commonly found throughout North America. It is growing in our pond and may be growing in a pond near you.

Some people mistake Watershield for a young lily pad, but they are not. They are much smaller and do not have the V-shaped slit usually found in a water lily.

The front of a young watershield leaf.

The back of a young watershield leaf.

Watershield is a native plant but it can be invasive in small and/or shallow ponds. Watershield can kill off bacteria and algae. It will also kill off competing vegetation.

In our small pond, we are not concerned about this plant taking over. However, if it were a concern, there are measures you can take to remove this plant from your pond. You can read more about it here.

Waterfowl eat this plant and fish use it to hide. Watershield is a favorite habitat for northern pike, largemouth bass and sunfish.

This specimen is still pretty young so the bottom and stem are not yet covered in slime but will be soon. The slime helps keep the plant from drying out in the hot summer months.

Watershield is actually considered a perennial herb. Leaves not covered in slime are often eaten as a salad in Japan. Wild food oragers will also collect this plant because it is edible from top to bottom. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. The roots can be peel and boiled or dried and ground into a flour meal. Of course, you want to be certain of the water quality before eating anything growing in it.

Have you ever eaten Watershield?

Visit our Arkansas Flora page to learn more about other plants found in Arkansas.

Watershield - A plant native to North America and Arkansas - Flora of Arkansas

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