Water-lettuce

Historis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Pistieae
Genus: Pistia
L.[1]
Species: P. stratiotes
Binomial name
Pistia stratiotes
L.[2]

Pistia is a genus of aquatic plant in the arum family, Araceae. The single species it comprises, Pistia stratiotes, is often called water cabbage, water lettuce, Nile cabbage, or shellflower. Its native distribution is uncertain, but probably pantropical; it was first discovered from the Nile near Lake Victoria in Africa. It is now present, either naturally or through human introduction, in nearly all tropical and subtropical fresh waterways. The genus name is derived from the Greek word πιστός (pistos), meaning "water," and refers to the aquatic nature of the plants.[3]

Description


It is a perennial monocotyledon with thick, soft leaves that form a rosette. It floats on the surface of the water, its roots hanging submersed beneath floating leaves. The leaves can be up to 14 cm long and have no stem. They are light green, with parallel veins, wavy margins and are covered in short hairs which form basket-like structures which trap air bubbles, increasing the plant's buoyancy. The flowers are dioecious, and are hidden in the middle of the plant amongst the leaves. Small green berries form after successful fertilization. The plant can also undergo asexual reproduction. Mother and daughter plants are connected by a short stolon, forming dense mats.


Ecology

The growth habit can make it a weed in waterways. It is a common aquatic weed in the United States, particularly in Florida where it may clog waterways. It has the potential to reduce the biodiversity of a waterway. Mats of Pistia block gas exchange at the air-water interface, reducing the oxygen in the water and killing fish. They also block light, killing native submerged plants, and alter immersed plant communities by crushing them.[4]

Mosquitoes of the genus Mansonia complete their life cycle only in the presence of aquatic plants such as Pistia, laying their eggs under the leaves. The emerging larvae fall into the water within 24 hours and stay attached to the Pistia root (which is rich with air sacs) with the help of a serrated siphon tube for respiration and develop into pupa. The pupa is also attached to the pistia root with the serrated piercing siphon tube. The egg to adult mosquito development is completed within 7 days.[5]

Control

Pistia can be controlled by mechanical harvesters that remove the water lettuce from the water and transport it to disposal on shore. Aquatic herbicides may also be used. Two insects are also being used as a biological control. Adults and larvae of the South American weevil Neohydronomous affinis feed on Pistia leaves, and the larvae of moth Spodoptera pectinicornis from Thailand. Both are proving to be useful tools in the management of Pistia.

Uses

Water lettuce is often used in tropical aquariums to provide cover for fry and small fish. It is also helpful as it outcompetes algae for nutrients in the water, thereby preventing massive algal blooms.

See also

References

"Biogeography of the Pistia clade (Araceae): Based on chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA sequences and Bayesian divergence time inference"

External links

  • Centre for Aquatic and Invasive Plants
  • Thai flora in literature
  • Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)
  • United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Water Lettuce.
  • West African plants - A Photo Guide.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.