Subularia aquatica

Water Awlwort

Water Awlwort

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Subularia, from the Latin, subula, "awl"
  • aquatica, from the Latin, aquaticus, "living, growing or found in or by the water; aquatic"
  • Common name from the long, pointed leaves and the Anglo-Saxon wort, "plant"
  • Other common names include: American Awlwort, Sylblad (Dan, Nor), Äimäruoho (Fin), Lus a' Mhinidh (Gaelic), Pfriemenkresse (Ger), Alurt (Is), Sylört (Swe)


    • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Dilleniidae
        • Order Capparales
          • Family Brassicaceae, the Mustards
            • Genus Subularia, the Awlworts
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 23023


  • An annual, aquatic herb; generally submerged but also found on muddy shores.
  • Leaves linear, awl-shaped, ¼"-2" long; all basal.
  • Stem 1"-4" long
  • Roots
  • Flowers small, perfect, 2-10 widely separated in a raceme
    • Sepals 4, persistent
    • Petals 4, white
    • Stamens 6, the outer 2 shorter than the inner 4
    • Pistil 1
    • Style 1
    • Ovary superior (within blossom)
  • Fruit a 2-chamber pod, short, oval or oblong, 2mm-4mm long.
  • Seed
  • Subularia aquatica is a small plant generally submerged along the margins of lakes and ponds. It is an inconspicuous plant which is usually overlooked by collectors and is probably more common than collecting records indicate.


  • A small aquatic plant of shallow waters.
  • Distinguished from similar plants by its basal, awl-shaped leaves.


  • Circumboreal; Labrador to Alaska, south to New England, Minnesota, Wyoming, and California. Also Eurasia.
  • At southern edge of its natural range in the BWCAW.
  • Status in Minnesota: Threatened


  • In our region shallow waters of cold lakes to 3' below the surface.
  • In the Arctic, shallow river pools, clay pond bottoms, outlets and muddy margins, water flats, lake beaches and shores; sand, gravel, and mud


  • Trees:
  • Shrubs:
  • Herbs:
  • Ground Covers:
  • Mammals:
  • Birds:




  • Reproduces by seed
  • Flowers June - August


  • By seed


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 2 (average minimum annual temperature -50ºF)
  • Not generally available for cultivation.



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Last updated on 26 February, 2004