The lesser water-plantain exhibits both sexual and vegetative reproduction (2), and the flowers are primarily insect-pollinated (2) (7). In addition, B. r. ranunculoides is capable of self-pollination, whereas B. r. repens requires pollen from a different plant in order for fertilisation to occur and seeds to develop (2).
The seeds of the lesser water-plantain are dispersed by birds or water, and once they have established in suitable habitat, the seedlings will not normally flower until their second year (2). B. r. repens can also reproduce vegetatively, spreading by its creeping runners which give rise to several ‘daughter’ plants (2).
The lesser water-plantain is a brief bloomer (4), with the petals only lasting for a day or so (11). Although this species is generally a perennial plant, it has been known to produce annual forms in temporary pools (2) (11).
The two subspecies flower at slightly different times, with B. r. repens flowering from June to October or November (2) (7), and B. r. ranunculoides from June to August. However, in southern regions, B. r. ranunculoides may flower as early as March (2).
Baldellia species generally require a lot of light for survival, but they are also able to occur in more shaded conditions. However, under such conditions growth is stunted, and the plant has smaller leaves and does not usually produce flowers or fruit. The lesser water-plantain is able to survive in dry conditions for several months, but cannot withstand complete or prolonged desiccation (drying out) of its habitat (2).
The leaves of Baldellia species are used in traditional medicine, as they have a ‘cooling’ effect (2).