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Published by Dan Bennett

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Published by: Dan Bennett on Jan 10, 2012
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Giant Salvinia (
Salvinia molesta
) – plant top view (left)and leaf detail showing hairs with caged tips (right).Common salvinia (
Salvinia minima
) - plant top view(left) and leaf detail showing open leaf hair tips (right)
BioStudies Exotic Species Identification Guide
Family: SalviniaceaeRobert G. Howells – BioStudies
160 Bearskin Trail,Kerrville, Texas 78028biostudies@hctc.netMay 2009
Images and materials herein are notavailable for reuse or other applicationswithout written permission of the author.
COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE: Although widely prohibited, some water-garden outlets, particularly Internet sources, continue to sell salvinias. Theyappear frequently as contamination among other fish-pond plants. Salviniasgenerally do poorly under typical aquarium culture.REASONS FOR RESTRICTION: Salvinias can grow very rapidly andcompletely cover some waterbodies. Dense populations may block light fromother more desirable aquatic plants. Giant salvinia has become a majornoxious aquatic plant in other countries where it has reproduced rapidly; ithas been known to over-grow even species like floating waterhyacinth(
 Eichhornia crassipes
). In addition to federal restrictions on members of the
complex with caged leaf hairs, several states prohibitsome or all salvinia species. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and TexasDepartment of Agriculture prohibit all species.Salvinias are actually small, aquatic ferns that float at the surface, with a"hairy" root-like leaf dangling below. Floating leaves are in 2's, oblong tonearly round, about 0.4-0.8 inches (10-20 mm) long (larger in
S. molesta
,to ca 2 inches/50 mm); a third leaf is positioned below the water surface inplace of roots (there are no true roots). Floating leaves are bluish-greenand covered with stiff hairs. A crease usually runs down the center of each leaf. Multiple sets of three leaves may be connected along a commonstolon. Larger, older leaves often grow in a pleated or accordion-likepattern. Accordion-shaped leaf morphology is not specific to giantsalvinia and may occur in other species do this as well. Common salvinia(
S. minima
) can grow nearly as large as giant salvinia (always examine leaf hairs). Salvinias generally fall into two groups based on the tips of theirleaf hairs. Giant salvinia-complex (
, and
) have cage-like or egg-beater structures on the tips of their leaf Waterlettuce (
 Pistia stratiotes
) is muchlarger than even giant salvinia (to ca8”/200 mm), with leaves in a rosettepattern, feathery but unbranchedroots, and has heavily veined leaves.Unlike salvinias, waterlettuce canproduce flowers.Water sprite (
Ceratopteris thalictroides
) is also a true aquatic fernthat can grow floating or rooted intothe substrate. Non-hair leaves aredeeply divided and unlikely to ever beconfused with salvinias.

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