Common Name(s): Azolla caroliniana, Carolina Mosquito Fern, Water velvet, Fairy moss
Origins: North America
Growth Rate: Fast
Requirements: Temps 71f-78f, PH 6.5 to 7.8
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.