We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Water Fern?

By Anna Harrison
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are seven species of water fern, all of which belong to the Azolla genus of plants. These unusual low-growing plants look nothing like traditional ferns, but more closely resemble moss, with very small and hairy oval leaves. Water fern is also known as fairy moss, mosquito fern, and duckweed fern. They can be found growing on the surface of slow moving or still freshwater, with rhizomes that grow and spread underwater.

Water fern plants can rapidly form into large colonies, and may completely cover smaller bodies of water. They are extremely fast growing, and have been known to more than double in size within just a few days. For this reason, they are planted in flooded rice paddies in Asia, where they help to absorb the excess water and also keep weeds in check. As the ferns rot, they also add necessary nitrogen to the rice paddies. The water ferns will not thrive in very cold water. In cold climates, they are often grown for their ornamental appearance and frequently spread out of control.

The mat-like growth of this aquatic fern can become a serious problem. In some locations, it is considered a noxious invasive weed. In many areas of the U.S., the sale of these plants is prohibited; they should never be planted in open water in these areas. The growth is so thick that mosquitoes cannot penetrate through the ferns to lay their eggs in the water, which is why it is also known as mosquito fern.

The water fern is often used as nutritious fodder for livestock including pigs, chickens, and cows. The plants are rich in vitamins and mineral and contain many necessary amino acids. When eating these ferns rather than regular commercial feed, chickens have been found to lay more eggs and cows produce more milk. They are also grown as food for shrimp and fish food and are sometimes consumed by humans in salads. Dried water ferns are powdered and sold in some natural food stores as a supplement.

Water ferns produce no seeds, but are propagated by spores found on the underside of the ferns. As the ferns dry, the spores will fall off of the plants. They can be spread on the surface of compost rich soil and placed under bright light. It usually takes several weeks for them to sprout, producing a green film that will soon turn into thousands of tiny new plants.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.