Ipomoea aquatica

Common Name(s): Water spinach

Non-Native to Florida

Origin: Central to South China 1
Introduction to Florida: pre-1950 (agriculture) 2

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This species appears on the following legally prohibited plant lists


CATEGORY I on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s (FLEPPC) 2015 List of Invasive Plant Species

UF-IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

More Info: Plant Management in Florida Waters

Download a recognition card (PDF) from Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know3

Download a page (PDF) from Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition1

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.

View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.



1. 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 Publication # SP 257. 2008.

2. 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.

3. Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know – Recognition Cards,
by A. Richard and V. Ramey. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 431. 2007.

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