Plant Library

European Water Clover

Marsilea quadrifolia

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European Water Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) at Green Thumb Nursery

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 low habit of growth, spreading atop the surface of the water. 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 ideally suited for growing in a pond, water garden or patio water container, and 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 water. 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. As an aquatic plant, it requires a suitable water garden environment and will benefit from special planting and ongoing care practices; consult one of our in-store experts for further details and instructions. 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 water 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 grown in outdoor pots and containers, aquatic plants like this one will require a special growing environment that meets their requirement for consistent moisture.

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