It is a floating freshwater aquatic plant, with one, two or three leaves each with a single root hanging in the water; as more leaves grow, the plants divide and become separate individuals. The root is 1-2 cm long. The leaves are oval, 1-8 mm long and 0.6-5 mm broad, light green, with three (rarely five) veins, and small air spaces to assist flotation. It propagates mainly by division, and flowers are rarely produced; when produced, they are about 1 mm diameter, with a cup-shaped membranous scale containing a single ovule and two stamens.
It is an important food resource for many fish and birds (notably ducks); it is rich in protein and fats.
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