Water Lettuce

Pistia stratiotes

Description


Non-Native (with the possible exception of Florida)

Water lettuce is a free-floating plant with many spongy, dusty green simple leaves. The leaves are covered in very fine hairs and arranged in a spiral pattern from the center of the plant. The leaves are 1 to 6 inches wide and have large veins running their length. The flowers are seldom seen. Water lettuce is a very aggressive invader and can form thick floating mats. If these mats cover the entire surface of the pond they can cause oxygen depletions and fish kills. Water lettuce should be controlled so they do not cover the entire pond.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Water lettuce has no known direct food value to wildlife and is considered a pest species.

This plant is not native to North America and it is illegal to possess or transport this species in Texas. Please report any sightings of this plant to Texas Park and Wildlife Department.