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AZOLLA caroliniana

Image of Azolla caroliniana



Botanical Name

AZOLLA caroliniana

Plant Common Name

Carolina Mosquito Fern

General Description

Native to much of the eastern half of North America, Carolina mosquito fern is a tiny, feather aquatic fern that floats on the surface of still ponds and lake edges. Populations also extend down into Mexico and Central America. Its tiny fronds are bright green, often with a reddish or purplish-red hue. It's hard to believe this aquatic, floating plant is in fact a miniscule fern. It is free-floating and may be adapted to fresh or brackish water.

Carolina mosquito fern thrives in pools with full or partial sun. It may be added to water gardens or aquatic containers for color and interest. One unique trait of all Azolla species is their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form. They do this via a symbiosis with the cyanobacterium, Anabaena azollae. Nitrogen is one of the three vital macronutrients needed for plant health, so Azolla species have also been used as biofertilizers.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 12

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Native To

    North America, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Water Requirements

    Ample Water

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Foliage Texture


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Water Gardens