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A small, floating aquatic fern. It can form a dense mat that completely covers the surface of a water body.
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Prefers slow-moving and shallow water. It is strictly a freshwater plant and is intolerant of saline water. The fern is common in swamps and other slow-moving bodies of water. Azolla is often found growing with other duckweeds.
Leaves are velvety, small, and frilly. They overlap to create a uniform cluster of plants. Leaf color ranges from green to crimson red and may change during the season. Each leaf has two lobes, and leaves are arranged alternately along the spine of the plant. Spores are produced on the base of the lobes.
Azolla caroliniana is very similar in appearance to Azolla pinnata, a federal noxious weed. A. pinnata is a slightly larger plant, with a Christmas tree shape. If you see A. pinnata, please contact a state official.
Whether you're a professional botanist or a casual nature enthusiast, the NC State University (NCSU) Aquatic Weeds app has detailed information on a wide variety of aquatic weeds to assist in identification.
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