LIMNOPHILA SESSILIFLORA (Vahl)
limnophila, ambulia, Asian marshweed
pronounced: lim-no-fil-a se-si-li-flo-ra
limne (G.): marsh, swamp
phil (G.): loving
sessil (L.): without a stalk
flora (L.): flower
“marsh loving plant having flowers without stalks”
- Ambulia sessiliflora
- Hottonia sessiliflora
- Stemodia sessiliflora
- Terebinthina sessiliflora
- Stemodiacra sessiliflora
Limnophila sessiliflora is a freshwater amphibious herb which has two distinctly different forms of leaves, submersed and emersed. It may form dense stands from the bottom to the top of the water. Limnophila sessiliflora and Limnophila indica, both non-native species present in the U.S., are frequently cultured as aquarium plants.
- herbaceous perennial
- strictly aquatic, “obligate” (requiring a wet habitat)
- in freshwaters, mostly submersed, partly emersed
- growing from bottom to surface in water to 12 feet deep
- forming dense stands of stems in the water
- reproduces asexually (regrows from plant fragments)
- each flower of Limnophila sessiliflora may set 200-300 seeds with ag ermination rate as high as 96% (Spencer & Bowes 1985)
- will grow in a variety of aquatic habitats, including mountain streams in Africa (Hemsley & Skan 1906), hot Florida rivers, and damp soils
- in 1979, this plant covered a total of 27 acres of Florida lakes and rivers (Tarver/DEP 1979); in 1992, this plant covered a total of 24 acres of Florida lakes and rivers (Schardt/DEP 1992)
- temperature tolerance: minimum temperature 15o C (59o F); optimum temperature, 20-26o C (68-79o F); maximum temperature, 28o C (83o F) (Kasselmann 1995)
- best light intensity for limnophila growth is around 215 micro-einsteins/meter squared/hour (Cobb and Haller, 1981)
- is efficient photosynthesizer and has low light compensation point for long periods of photosynthesis (Spencer & Bowes 1984), making it a competitive plant because it can start growing in low light before other plants do
- in mid-80s Japan, limnophila was found in lakes having pH 6.2-7.4; alkalinity 0.18-.66 meq/l; chlorophyll a 2.17-23.18 ug/l; transparency .9m-2.2m; and total P 8.0-227 ug/l (Kunii 1991)
- rooted in the hydro-soil
- stems grow to 12 feet, with several inches erectly emersed
- leaves in whorls along the stem
- leaves polymorphic, submersed and emersed; mostly to 1.5 in. (5-40 mm) long
- emersed leaves dark green, more-or-less lance-shaped; in whorls of 5-8 leaves about the stem (also reported as 4-12, Gilbert 1984); margins appear to be torn irregularly (crenate-serrate to variously lacerate)
- submersed leaves are finely divided and feathery, segments opposite; ovate, elliptic to broadly lanceolate; in whorls of 6-10 leaves (and more) about the stem
- flowering April through November (Japan, Kunii 1991), and July through November (in north Florida and Texas, Correll & Correll 1975)
- flowers small, sessile (without stalks); solitary in leaf axils (angle where leaf meets the stem) in the apical (uppermost) parts of the stems, above the water (aerial); corolla (petals) 5-10 mm long, blue, violet, pink or lavender, upper lip white or pink with 2 blue dots, 3-lobed, lobes ovate; calyx 4-7 mm long, hairy (pubescent); pedicels stout (not slender)
- rooting at stem nodes, with copious roots (Sculthorpe 1967)
- fruit are capsules, ellipsoid, 3.5-5.5 mm long, green-brown when submersed, dark brown when emersed
- there are about 36 species of Limnophila in the world, including 13 aquatic species
- Limnophila sessiliflora is native to India, Ceylon and the Philippines
- is present in the Philippies (Pancho 1976)
- is present in Japan (Harada 1975; Kunii 1991), and was found in Japan as early as 1932 (Kunii 1991)
- is a major weed problem in paddy rice fields of India, China, Japan and the Philippines
Distribution in the U.S.
- Limnophila sessiliflora was believed by Florida DNR in 1976 to have been intentionally planted in the state (Tarver 1976);
- now is naturalized in several counties in Florida from south Florida to the panhandle;
- has been collected in upper San Marcos River, Hays County, Texas and in Landa Lake, Comal County, Texas
The best way to track the spread of invasive aquatic plants may be to identify the drainage basins (watersheds) they have been discovered in. Drainage maps give useful information to eco-managers because drainage maps show precisely where the plants are, making it easier for managers to infer where the plants might go next, and thus where to take preventive measures.
How it got here
- Limnophila sessiliflora apparently was first brought to the U.S. as an aquarium plant;
- was first noted in Lake Seminole (Florida/Georgia) in 1965 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District 1978);
- variously reported in Glades County, Florida, 1971, (Mahler and Tarver 1980) and naturalized in southwestern Georgia (Godfrey and Wooten 1981);
- most recent Florida DEP report shows that limnophila has not become a nuisance in the state during the past 25 years
- Limnophila sessiliflora continues to be sold through aquarium supply dealers and over the Internet, even though the plant is on the U.S. Federal Noxious Weed List.
Potential to spread elsewhere in U.S.
- There is no information in the scientific literature as to the potential for Limnophila sessiliflora to spread in the U.S.
- Limnophila sessiliflora is fast-growing and able to regrow from fragments
- able to shade out and thus outcompete totally submersed species
- limnophila clogs irrigation and flood-control canals, and pumping and power stations
- this species is a major weed problem in paddy rice fields of India, China, Japan and the Philippines (Misra 1975; Takematsu 1976)
The action of mechanical harvestors and chopping machines serves to help spread this invasive plant, which re-grows from leaf fragments.
The herbivorous (plant-eating) biological control fish, the Chinese grass carp, does not eat Limnophila sessiliflora
Registered aquatic herbicides provide very limited control of this species (Mahler 1980); however, high levels of 2-4,D reportedly kills this plant (Mahler 1980); otherwise, there is almost no literature describing possible control methods for this plant.
What can you do?
First, clean your boat before you leave the ramp! Transporting plant fragments on boats, trailers, and in livewells is the main introduction route to new lakes and rivers. But, there’s plenty more you can do to help.
Laws and lists
- is “state-listed” by Florida and North Carolina
- is on the Florida Prohibited Plants list, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- is a North Carolina class A noxious weed
- is on the Federal List of Noxious Weeds (USDA/APHIS, 2000)
Want to know more?
The information contained on this wep page was extracted from published scientific literature and agency reports. It is important to know that plant research, like most areas of scientific research, is still relatively young and incomplete–much may have been published about the physiology of one plant but not about its management; much may have been published about how to culture and grow another plant but not about its natural ecology. Thousands of research articles may have been published about one invasive plant, but perhaps only a dozen about another.
If you want to read the research yourself, perhaps to clarify or expand an area of information contained here, or to help determine your own line of research, you are welcome to query the world’s largest collection of international scientific literature about aquatic, wetland and invasive plants, the APIRS bibliographic database, which contains more than 54,000 citations and their content keywords. Or you might want to ask us to do it for you and mail or e-mail the search results to you.
This is the literature about Limnophila sessiliflora that was used to develop this web page. More research items about this plant may be found at APIRS.
- Agarwal SG et al. 1975. Chemical examination of the volatile oil of Limnophila rugosa. Indian J. Pharm. 37:99-100
- Angerstein MB, Lemke, DE. 1994. First records of the aquatic weed Hygrohila polysperma (Acanthaceae) from Texas. Sida 16:365-371
- Aurand D. 1982. Nuisance aquatic plants and aquatic plant management programs in the United States: Volume two, Southeastern region. MITRE Co., McLean, Virginia, 359 pp.
- Backer CA, Bakhuizen RC. 1965. Flora of Java. Vol. II. Groningen: N.V.P. Noordhoff Ltd
- Biswas D, Calder CC. 1955. Handbook of Common Water and Marsh Plants of India and Buram. Health Bull. 24, Delhi, 47 pp.
- Bowes G. 1982. Baseline physiology of the potential problem plants, Limnophila sessiliflora and Hygrophila polysperma. University of Florida, Gainesville, Dept. of Botany. 17 pp.
- Bruenner G. 1970. A new giant aquatic plant Limnophila aquatica develops as a thankful guest. Aquarien Mag. 4:488-489
- Cobb JE, Haller W. 1981. Evaluation of Cabomba, Hygrophila and Limnophila as potential new weeds in the United States. Annual Report USDA/SEA/AR- University of Florida, Integrated Management of Aquatic Weeds 1980-1981
- Correll D, Correll H. 1972. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the Southwestern United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, D.C. 1777 pp.
- Correll DS, Johnston MC. 1970. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner, TX.
- Dutta NM. 1975. A Revision of the genus Limnophila of Eastern India. Bull. Bot. Soc. Bengal. 29:1-7
- Furst GG. 1968. The anatomical structure of some aquatic plants. Byull. Gl. Bot. Sada. 71:67-74
- Gilbert KM. 1984. A review of the aquatic plants Limnophila heterophylla and Limnophila sessiliflora. Bureau of Aquatic Plant Research and Control Dept. of Natural Resources. 12 pp.
- Godfrey R, Wooten J. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States, Dicotyledons. Univ. of Georgia Press, Athens. 933 pp.
- Hannan HH. 1969. The introduction and establishment of Ceratopteris in Texas. Amer. Fern Journal. 59:122. Hara H. 1978. Comments on East Asiatic Plants Part 5. J. Japanese Bot. 53:232-238.
- Haynes. 1985. Limnophila sessiliflora. Pests Not Known to Occur in the United States. Unpublished technical series. USDA APHIS PPQ. Hyattsville, Md. 5 pp.
- Hemsley and Skan. 1906. Scrophulariaceae. In Thiselton-Dyer WT (ed.) Flora of Tropical Africa. Vol. IV.
- Hertel I. 1971. Data on cultivation and reproduction of Limnophila heterophylla. Monatsschr. Ornithol. Viva. Ausg. B. Aquarien Terrarien. 18:240-241
- Jacobsen N. 1977. Aquarium Plants. Blandford Press: Poole, Dorset. 160 pp.
- Kunii H. 1991. Records of Aquatic Macrophyte Flora and Environmental Factors from the Irrigation Ponts around Lake Shinji, Shimane, Japan. From Memoirs of the Faculty of Science, Shimane University
- Lemke DE. 1989. Aquatic macrophytes of the upper San Marcos River, Hays County, Texas. South Western Naturalist. 32:289-291
- Li HL. 1978. Scrophulariaceae. In HL Li, TS Liu, TC Huang, T Koyama, and CE DelVol, Flora of Taiwan, vol. IV. Epoch Publishing Co., Ltd., Taiwan. pp 551-616
- Lloyd RM. 1993. Parkeriaceae. In: Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America North of Mexico, vol. 2, Oxford Univ. Press, New York. pp. 119-121
- Mahler MJ. 1980. Limnophila, a new exotic pest. Aquatics 2:4-7
- Matsumura J, Hayata B. 1906. Enumeratio Plantarum Formosanarum. Journ. Coll. Sci., Imp. Uni. Todyo, Japan. 22:277
- Misra G, Tripathy G. 1975. Studies on the control of aquatic weeds of Orissa, India. Effect of chemical herbicides on some aquatic weeds. J. Indian Bot. Soc. 54:65-71
- Muhlberg H. 1982. The Complete Guide to Water Plants. EP Publishing, Ltd. German Democratic Republic. 392 pp.
- Naik VN. 1969. On the identity and nomenclature of some Indian plants. Indian Forest. 95:413-417
- Pancho JV, Soerjani M. 1978. Aquatic Weeds of Southeast Asia. National Publ. Coop. Inc.: Quezon City (Philippines). 129 pp.
- Pancho JV. 1976. Phillipine aquatic weeds. Kalikasan. 5:37-91.
- Penth B, Weigl J. 1971. Anion influx, ATP level and carbon dioxide fixation in Limnophila gratioloides and Chara foetida. Planta Arch. Wiss Bot. 96:212-223
- Philcox D. 1970. A taxonomic revision of the genus Limnophila R. Br. (scrophulariaceae). Kew Bull. 24(1):101-170
- Piccoli F. 1974. A previously unrecorded weed in rice fields Limnophila indica and Limnophila sessiliflora hybrid. Riso (Milan). 23:181-190
- Ramamoorthy TP, Turner BI. 1992. Nomaphila stricta (Acanthaceate), a newly discerned aquatic weed in Texas, and the first report for N. America. Sida 15:115-117
- Rao, Ram HYM. 1981. Regeneration of whole plants from cultured root tips of Limnophila indica. Can. J. Bot. 59:969-973
- Rataj K, Horeman TJ. 1977. Aquarium Plants. T.F. H. Publications: Neptune City.
- Ridley HN. 1967. The Flora of the Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam.
- Roe CD. 1967. A Manual of Aquarium Plants. Shirley Aquatics Ltd. Publ.
- Schardt J. 1992. Florida Aquatic Plant Survey Report. Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Aquatic Plant Management. 83 pp.
- Sculthorpe CD. 1967. The Biology of Aquatic Vascular Plants. Edward Arnold Publ. Ltd.: London. 610 pp.
- Spencer W, Bowes G. 1984. Baseline Physiology of the Potential Problem Plants, Limnohila sessiliflora and Hygrophila polysperma. Final Project Report to DNR>
- Spencer W, Bowes G. 1985. Limnophila and Hygrophila: a review and physiological assessment of their weed potential in Florida. J. Aq. Pl. Manag. 23:7-16
- Stodola J. 1967. Encyclopedia of Water Plants. Crown Publishers (T.F.H. Publ.): New York. 368 pp.
- Subramanyam K. 1961. Aquatic Angiosperms. New Dehli: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
- Takematsu TM et al. 1976. Weeds of cultivated fields and herbicides in China. Bull. Coll. Agric. Utsunomiya Univ. 9:91-107
- Tarver DP. 1979. The 1979 Florida Aquatic Flora Survey Report. Dept. of Natural Resources, Bureau of Aquatic Plant Research and Control. 56 pp.
- Van Dyke, J. 1984. (Personal communication). N.W. Regional Biologist. Bureau of Aquatic Plants, DNR.
- Yamazaki T. 1985. A revision of the genera Limnophila and Torenia from Indochina. Journ. Fac. Sci. Univ. Todyo. III 13: 575-624
- Yang YP. 1987. A synopsis of aquatic angiospermous plants of Taiwan. Bot. Bull. Acad. Sin. 28: 191-209
- Yang YP, Yen SH. 1997. Notes on Limnophila (scrophulariaceae) of Taiwan. Botanical Bulletin of Academia Sinica. pp. 285-294
- Wunderlin RP, Hansen BF, Bridges EL. 1995 (updated May 1996). Atlas of Florida vascular plants.
View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.
This web page was authored in June, 2001, by Victor Ramey (Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida), with significant contribution from Barbara Peichel (Sea Grant, University of Minnesota). The information contained herein is based on the literature found in the APIRS database.
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1. 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.
2. 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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