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European Water Clover

Marsilea quadrifolia

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European Water Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) at Roger's Gardens

European Water Clover foliage

European Water Clover foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  6 inches

Spacing:  8 inches

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade  full shade 

Hardiness Zone:  6a

Other Names:  Clover Fern, Pepperwort


An aquatic perennial presenting attractive, four-leaf clover like leaves that rise on stalks to water level or just above; great for pond edges, or water features; a spore producing plant that does not flower

Ornamental Features

European Water Clover's attractive fan-shaped compound leaves emerge chartreuse in spring, turning bluish-green in color throughout the season on a plant with a spreading habit of growth.

Landscape Attributes

European Water Clover is a dense herbaceous perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. It has no significant negative characteristics.

European Water Clover is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • Water Gardens
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

European Water Clover will grow to be only 6 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 8 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years. As an herbaceous perennial, this plant will usually die back to the crown each winter, and will regrow from the base each spring. Be careful not to disturb the crown in late winter when it may not be readily seen!

This plant performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is an excellent choice for very wet locations or locations with some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is not originally from North America.

European Water Clover is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Massing  Naturalizing  Container  Water 
Foliage Color  Texture 
Ornamental Features