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).
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.
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.
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.
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