This common Florida native is a rooted, submersed plant. However, it may have submersed and floating leaves, of different shapes. Fanwort generally grows in 3 to 10 feet of water; and is frequently found in ponds, lakes, and quiet streams. Fanwort stems are long and much-branched near the base. They have many slender roots. Fanwort gets its name from the shape of its fanlike, underwater leaves, which are about 2 inches across. These submersed leaves are repeatedly divided. Leaves are arranged oppositely, or in whorls along the stem. The floating leaves of fanwort are few and infrequent. They occur at the stem tips. These floating leaves are narrowly diamond-shaped; and are attached in the center, like an umbrella. Fanwort flowers are white to pink to purplish; and are about one-half inch across. The flowers are on stalks that arise from the tips of the stems. The submersed parts of fanwort resemble the submersed parts of limnophila. Distinguish between the two by looking for floating or emersed leaves. The floating leaves of fanwort are small and diamond-shaped. The emersed leaves of limnophila are deeply lobed and torn-looking.
Fanwort has two types of leaves: submersed leaves and the much-less common floating leaves. The submersed leaves are fan-shaped and frilly. The floating leaves are narrowly diamond-shaped. Fanwort’s white to purplish flowers are on stalks, and are about one-half-inch across.