Non-Native to Florida
Ipomoea aquatica is listed as a Prohibited Aquatic Plant in Florida (DEP), and as a Federal Noxious Weed by USDA/APHIS.
Video ID segment (2-3 minutes)
Download a page (PDF 166 KB) from Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition, by K.A. Langeland, H.M. Cherry, et al. University of Florida-IFAS Pub SP 257. 2008.
This species is on the FL DACS Prohibited Aquatic Plant List – 5B-64.011. According to Florida Statute 369.25, “No person shall import, transport, cultivate, collect, sell, or possess any noxious aquatic plant listed on the prohibited aquatic plant list established by the department without a permit issued by the department.” See 5B-64.011 for more information.
This species is also on the Federal Noxious Weed List – (7 CFR 360). No person may move a Federal noxious weed into or through the United States, or interstate, without a federal permit. See 7 CFR 360 for more information.
Date of introduction to Florida: pre-1950 (agriculture)
(from Strangers in Paradise, Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida, Chapter 2: Florida’s Invasion by Nonindigenous Plants: History, Screening, and Regulation, by D.R. Gordon and K.P. Thomas, pp. 21-37. Island Press, Washington, DC, 1997.)
Ipomoea aquatica is rarely found in the shallow water in ponds, lakes, and rivers of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee counties of Florida. It is native to the East Indies but escaped cultivation (Wunderlin, 2003).
Appearance: Herbaceous trailing vine with milky sap. Stems hollow, rooting at nodes, floating in aquatic situations.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, with glabrous petioles 3–14 cm (1–6 in) long; blades generally arrowhead shaped but variable, glabrous or rarely pilose, to 17 cm (7 in) long, with tips pointed; blades held above water when stems floating.
Flowers: Showy, funnelform; like morning glory blooms; solitary or in few-flowered clusters at leaf axils; petals white or pink-lilac.
Fruit: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, about 1 cm (0.5 in) wide; holding 1–4 grayish seeds, these often short, hairy.
Ecological threat: Forms dense floating mats of intertwined stems over water surfaces, shading out native submersed plants and competing with native emergents. FLEPPC Category I
Distribution: C, SW
Text from Invasive and Non-Native Plants You Should Know, Recognition Cards, by A. Richard and V. Ramey, 2007. UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Publ. No. SP 431.
View more information and pictures about water spinach, as contained in the Langeland/Burks book, Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas.
See the UF/IFAS Assessment lists plants according to their invasive status in Florida.