Ipomoea aquatica

Water spinach

Nonnative to FloridaFederal Noxious Weed ListFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: tropical Asia

Swamp morning glory is a popular leafy vegetable that is commonly grown and eaten in Southeast Asia and southern China. However, due to its potential to cause both environmental and economic harm it is prohibited as a federal noxious weed in the U.S.  It has had multiple known introductions to Florida since 1979 and was studied as a potential vegetable crop but the risk and costs of invasion outweighed the potential benefits. There are a few established populations in the state, and it has been eradicated in some but not all places. Suitable habitats include canals, ditches, the shallow areas of lakes or ponds, and other slow moving water systems.

Species Characteristics

Family: Convolvulaceae

Habit: 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 and seed: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, about 1 cm (0.5 in) wide; holding 1–4 grayish seeds, these often short, hairy.

Distribution in Florida: vouchered from Duval, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Charlotte counties.  Has also been reported in Walton, Marion, Polk, Sarasota, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties.


This plant has become problematic across tropics and is considered one of the worst invasive plants in the Philippines. It grows very fast (several inches a day) and forms dense floating mats shading out native submersed plants and competing with native emergent vegetation. It can also impede flood control and navigation. Any suspected findings of this species should be reported to FWC

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Always clean any equipment and gear when moving from one aquatic area to another.


Hand pull being sure to remove all plant parts.


Not feasible as fragments start new plants.


None known.


Consult with your local UF IFAS Extension office to develop a chemical control plan.

Learn more about this species

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

Atlas of Florida Plants


FDACS Noxious Weed Page


USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium