Pistia stratiotes are commonly called Water Lettuce or Shell Flower and are a part of the Araceae family of plants. It is native to the Nile near Lake Victoria, Africa. This is an aquatic, free-floating, monocotyledon, perennial plant. They also call it the Water Cabbage, Nile Cabbage.
It grows rosettes of foliage about 6in or 12.5cm across. The leaves are hairy, lighter green, and wedged-shaped. The hairs are water-repellant. They look similar to lettuce, hence the common name. It produces new plants at the end of its stolons and in the right environment, it can spread easily. It is considered a noxious week in many areas.
Pistia stratiotes flowers June to September in Summer. The flowers are arum-like and yellowish-green in color. It has feather roots that float in the water. Though it spread rapidly it also provides shade to stop the growth of algae. Pistia stratiotes are grown more for their leaves than their flowers. The name is from Greek, “Pistos” means water, and “Stratiotes” means soldier.
How to grow Pistia stratiotes:
Grow Pistia stratiotes in the sun or partial shade. Scatter them on the water surface. Remove excess plants if it is spreading rapidly. In colder climates store indoors in a warm and bright location with at least 50ºF or 10ºC in temperature.