Friday Fellow: Floating Crystalwort

by Piter Kehoma Boll

If you own an aquarium at home, you may already know this fellow, as it is very popular among aquarists. Its scientific name is Riccia fluitans, but it is colloquially known as floating crystalwort.


Riccia fluitans growing on a wet terrestrial substrate. Photo by Christian Fischer.*

As its name suggest, the floating crystalwort is usually found floating on water, but it can also grow on a substrate in damp areas near water bodies or, more rarely, on underwater substrate.

The floating crystalwort is a liverwort, belonging to a group of simple and primitive plants with no specialized tissues, that usually grow as a flattened thallus. When floating, Riccia fluitans forms a green mesh that is used by juvenile fish as a shelter.


The floating crystalwort floating in an aquarium. Photo by Piotr Kuczynski.*

In research, the floating crystalwort is highly used to study bioaccumulation of elements and properties of the cell membrane, such as transmembrane transports.

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Chojnacka, K. 2007. Biosorption and bioaccumulation of microelements by Riccia fluitans in single and multi-metal system. Bioresource Technology, 98(15): 2919-2925.

Johannes, E.; Felle, H. 1987. Implications for cytoplasmic pH, protonmotice force, and amino-acid transport across the plasmalemma of Riccia fluitansPlanta, 172(1): 53-59.

Wikipedia. Riccia fluitans. Available at: < >. Access on November 17, 2016.

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*Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Filed under Botany, Friday Fellow

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