Skip to main content

Invasive Species: European Water Clover

European Water Clover

(Marsilea quadrifolia)
*Detected in Michigan*


This species is currently allowable for sale and possession in Michigan. If these plants are observed outside of cultivation, please report to:

EGLE Aquatic Invasive Species Program

If possible, please take one or more photos of the invasive species you are reporting. Also make note of the location, date and time of the observation. This will aid in verification of your report. You may be asked to provide your name and contact information if follow-up is needed.

- Or - use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone -



  • Resembles a four leaf clover.
  • Leaves are smooth and can be floating, submerged or emergent.
  • Maximum height: 8 inches.
  • Thin green stalks bear a single leaf.

European water clover
Photo courtesy of Marsilea quadrifolia 2, Saxifraga – Jasenka Topic.

European water clover
Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

European water clover
Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Habitat: This aquatic fern anchors into sediment in shallow, slow-moving waters. Preference is given to sandy and loamy soil environments with semi-shade to full sun.

Native Range: Europe and Asia.

U.S. Distribution: Reported in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri with widespread occurrences in the northeastern states.

Local Concern: European water-clover has the ability to form dense, monospecific stands by outcompeting native aquatic species. Its ability to adjust the angle of floating leaflets to optimize sunlight gives it even more of a competitive edge over native species.

Other Common Names: Four-leaf clover, Pepperwort, Water shamrock.


European Water-clover Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF

Status and Strategy for European Water-Clover (Marsilea quadrifolia L.) Management - Printable PDF