Fanwort is multi-branched submerged perennial plant except for a few small (1/2 – 1 1/4 inches long) alternately arranged elongated floating leaves. The submerged leaves are opposite, attached by a single petiole, but above the petiole form a finely divided “fan-shaped” leaf. Fanwort has a small (1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter) white to pink flower which arises from the tip of the stem and stands slightly above the waters surface.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Fanwort has little known direct food value to wildlife.