Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Marsilea drummondii


Common Nardoo

Ngartu to Paakantyi people


This water fern looks like a floating four-leaf clover. Leaves arise from a long creeping rhizome (underground stem) that is rooted in the mud. Nardoo produces spores which are housed in small packets that grow on stalks from the rhizome.

Where it is found

This water plant is widespread in inland areas and is found in moist depressions, and around waterholes, swamps and creeks. In New South Wales the plant occurs on the western slopes and plains into Queensland and Victoria. It also occurs in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.


  • On most of the flood plains around the Darling region, around the Darling River, we come across the Nardoo plant. Now, the Nardoo plant was used extensively by the Aboriginal people to grind up and make their flour. As well as that, they would eat the Nardoo seeds when they were fresh, as well as the plant itself - the leaves. Everything was edible. In a good time all these plants would come back along the flood plains. We’ve lived for years and years in the dry time and you don’t see a plant at all, but after big rains in ’88 all the plants came back. But of course, all the emus, kangaroos, sheep, and rabbits, they love them too, so you’ve got to be really quick now to gather enough seeds to make some flour.
    Beryl Carmichael

Further information

Click here for further information on Marsilea drummondii.

Marsilea drummondii
Nardoo (Marsilea drummondii) is a fern with leaves that look like a four-leaf clover. You can see the spore cases at the base of the plant.

Marsilea drummondii: leaves, spore case, habit.