Shallow tidal and non-tidal fresh waters; usually grows in clay or chalky sediment but is sometimes found in streams with a gravel bottom
Ranges from the upper Chesapeake Bay to freshwater rivers, streams, lakes and ponds throughout the Bay watershed. Recorded in rivers such as the upper tidal Potomac River and the Bush, Elk, Magothy, Middle and Sassafras rivers in Maryland.
Water stargrass is made up of long, grass-like leaves that grow alternately along freely branching stems. The base of each leaf wraps around the stem. In summer, small, yellow, six-petaled flowers project above the water’s surface.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Asexual reproduction occurs when stem fragments break off and overwinter at the bottom before growing into a new plant in spring. Sexual reproduction takes place in summer when the plant flowers.
Seeds form in late summer and autumn, then grow into new plants in the spring.
Did You Know?
- Water stargrass gets its name from its yellow flowers, which look like tiny stars floating above the water.
- If it washes ashore, water stargrass can grow on land. The land-growing form has smaller leathery leaves and very few branches, but still produces the characteristic star-like flowers.
Sources and Additional Information
- Underwater Grasses in Chesapeake Bay & Mid-Atlantic Coastal Waters by Maryland Sea Grant
- Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
- Chesapeake Bay: Nature of the Estuary, A Field Guide by Christopher P. White
- SAV Key: Water Stargrass – Maryland Department of Natural Resources