Water lettuce

Quick Facts

Scientific namePistia stratiotes
Origin - some debate native vs. exoticSouth America
IntroductionColonial period, ship ballast (?)
Aquatic communityFloating
HabitatWater surfaces
DistributionPeninsula, rare in panhandle
Management effortMaintenance control
2014 public waters / plant acres:168 / 2,954

Environmental and Economic Concerns

  • Growth rate similar to water hyacinth
  • Harbors mosquitoes
  • Mats prevent air and light diffusion into water
    • killing native plants, fish and wildlife
    • preventing decomposition of detritus
  • Increases sedimentation by shedding roots and shoots
  • Dense mats jam against bridges and reduce water flow at flood control structures
Pistia stratiotes
Pistia stratiotes
Pistia stratiotes
Pistia stratiotes

Management Options

Biological2 host-specific insects (ineffective to date)
ChemicalDiquat; flumioxazin, occasionally copper near drinking water intakes; carfentrazone
MechanicalHarvest around bridges and flood control structures
PhysicalOccasional winter drawdowns (drying and desiccation)

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Status of the Aquatic Plant Maintenance Program in Florida Public Waters, Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2009-2010.

Last updated: 30 December 2014