Marsilea minuta (also known as dwarf water clover) is an aquatic fern that became extinct from nature in Israel following drainage of the Hula swamp.

It belongs to the family Marsileaceae and has a tropical distribution in Africa and part of Asia. Before the Hula swamp was drained, samples of Marsilea plants were collected and preserved in Tel-Aviv University Botanical Garden, and later planted back in the Hula reservation. Some of the plants from the TAU Botanical Garden were transplanted to Ati Yaffe's native plants garden in Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed-Heh, which later on were re-transplanted too to a water plant reservation pond in Neot-Kedumim. Alisma plantago-aquatica (European water-plantain), also an endangered species that was distributed only in the Hula region, was brought a year ago to the TAU Botanical Garden from the Neot-Kedumim reservation pond. Apparently, Alisma plantago-aquatica wasn’t alone in the pot, as new leaves of Marsilea minuta appeared one year after the transplantation in the wetland plot. And so a cycle has been closed, with the rare fern’s offspring having returned to the Botanical Garden from which it was taken many decades ago.

Alisma plantago-aquatica

Alisma plantago-aquatica, Photo: Yael Orgad

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