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Water lettuce

Pistia stratiotes


Water lettuce or water cabbage is a perennial monocotyledon with thick, soft leaves that form a rosette. It floats on the surface of the water, its roots hanging submersed beneath floating leaves. The leaves can be up to 14 cm long and have no stem. They are light green, with parallel veins, wavy margins and are covered in short hairs which form basket-like structures which trap air bubbles, increasing the plant's buoyancy. The flowers are dioecious, and are hidden in the middle of the plant amongst the leaves. Small green berries form after successful fertilization. The plant can also undergo asexual reproduction. Mother and daughter plants are connected by a short stolon, forming dense mats.


It is now present, either naturally or through human introduction, in nearly all tropical and subtropical fresh waterways. The growth habit can make it a weed in waterways. It is a common aquatic weed in the United States, particularly in Florida where it may clog waterways. It has the potential to reduce the biodiversity of a waterway.


Spotted in a pond at a mini park.

1 Species ID Suggestions

starleaf 12 years ago
Water lettuce
Pistia stratiotes Pistia

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Manilie 12 years ago

thanks StarLeaf!

starleaf 12 years ago

Used to have these in our fish pond. They multiply quickly; and the gold fish we had seemed to like them too.

Spotted by

Davao del Sur, Philippines

Spotted on Nov 21, 2011
Submitted on Dec 9, 2011

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