Other Names: Grassleaf Mudplantain, Water star-grass
Synonym: Zosterella dubia (Jacq.) Small
Plant Family: Water-Hyacinth, Pontederiacea
Wetland Indicator Status: OBL
Water Star-Grass (Heteranthera dubiaresembles) many of the narrow-leaf pondweed species, but has no midrib on its narrow leaves. The plant has small, yellow flowers with thin petals that resemble stars.
Water star-grass has the seemly strange trait of many aquatic plants: they often don’t successfully reproduce unless they are on exposed lake beds. While I occasionally see the small yellow flowers of water stargrass in very shallow, plant-choked water, I more often encounter them coming out of the mud or sand where the lakeshore has receded slightly.
I prefer the old genus name Zosterella because there is a pondweed (Potamogeton) called Potamogeton zosteriformis. At first glance from the boat or the dock, the plant looks just like water stargrass, but has that tell-tale midrib on the leaf. Botanists recognized the similarity, giving it the species name zosteriformis (in the form of zoster) so now the name makes little sense. (Thanks, plant taxonomists.)