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Publication #SP 37

Limnophila, Limnophila sessiliflora (Vahl)1

David W. Hall, Vernon V. Vandiver, Cody J. Gray2


Common Name: Limnophila

Scientific Name: Limnophila sessiliflora (Vahl)

Family: Blume Scrophulariaceae, Figwort Family


The seedlings of Limnophila are reported as infestations along the shoreline (Figure 1).

Figure 1. 

Seedling, Limnophila, Limnophila sessiliflora (Vahl)

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Mature Plant

Limnophila is an aquatic, or nearly aquatic, perennial herb with two kinds of whorled leaves (Figure 2). The submerged stems are smooth and have leaves to 30 mm long, which are repeatedly dissected. These differ from the emergent stems which are covered with flat shiny hairs and have leaves up to 3 cm long with toothed margins. The emergent stems are usually 2-15 cm above the surface of the water. The flowers are stalkless and borne in the leaf axis. The lower portion (sepals) have five, green, hairy lobes, each 4-5 mm long. The upper portion is purple and composed of five fused petals forming a tube with two lips. The lips have distinct purple lines on the undersides. The fruit is a capsule containing up to 150 seeds.

Figure 2. 

Mature plant, Limnophila, Limnophila sessiliflora (Vahl)

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Limnophila is derived from a Latin word which means pond-loving and refers to its aquatic existence. Sessiliflora, also Latin, means sessile-flowered and refers to this plant's stalkless flowers.


This weed is found in or near organically stained, acidic or clear, slightly alkaline water sporadically throughout Florida. It is also naturalized in southwestern Georgia and Texas. It was introduced from the Old World.


Limnophila can grow in water up to three meters deep. Reproduction is by fragmentation of the stem or by seeds. Only a small portion of the stem is necessary for growth to occur. In late fall the mats of Limnophila break loose from the hydrosoil. Since the fruit is mature in the late fall the floating mats spread the seeds as they move. A toxin present in the stem tissue may prevent herbivorous fish from eating the plant. It tolerates low temperatures.



This document is SP 37, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date May 1991. Revised February 2006. Reviewed January 2012. Visit the EDIS website at


David W. Hall, former extension botanist, Herbarium, Florida Museum of Natural History; Vernon V. Vandiver, associate professor emeritus, Agronomy Department; Cody J. Gray, assistant professor, Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.