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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Vallisneria americana Michaux)

Wild celery, staminate plant
Wild celery, pistillate plant
Staminate Plant Pistillate Plant

FROG'S BIT FAMILY (Hydrocharitaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A submerged perennial herb with long, ribbonlike leaves (mostly 3-11 mm. wide and up to 2 m. or more long) in a basal rosette. The leaves have a characteristic three-zoned appearance that distinguishes wild celery from other plants that produce rosettes of ribbon-like submerged leaves (Figure 12). The plants are unisexual. The pistillate flower is tubular and on a long stalk that carries it to the water's surface. Starninate flowers are densely packed in a spathe. In flower from July to October.

Comparison of leaf venation
Figure 12 - Comparison of Leaf Venation

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Wild celery is found in lakes, streams and Mississippi River backwaters, often in deep water (to 20 feet). It spreads by rhizomes with tuberous tips which, like the fruit and other parts of the plant, are relished as food by waterfowl, especially the canvasback (Aythya valisineria), and fish. The staminate flowers are released under water, each containing an air bubble that causes it to rise to the surface. Once on the surface, part of the flower opens and acts as a "sail." If the staminate flower randomly floats to a pistillate flower, pollination occurs at the water's surface. The long stalk of the pistillate flower then becomes coiled, pulling the flower below the surface where it develops into the mature fruit.

SOURCE: Fernald (1970); and Voss (1972).

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