Scientific name

Heteranthera Ruiz & Pavon

Common names

mud plantain, duck salad, water stargrass



Could be confused with

Eichhornia, Limnobium, Najas, Monochoria, Potamogeton, Ruppia

Native distribution

North and South America, Africa

Species commonly cultivated

Heteranthera dubia (Jacq.) MacMill. (Central America) (Zosterella dubia)

H. limosa (Sw.) Willd. (North and South America)

H. reniformis Ruíz & Pav. (southern U.S. to South America)

H. zosterifolia Mart. (South America)

Adventive distribution

Asia, Caribbean

Weed status

Most species are not considered serious weeds. Heteranthera limosa is recorded as a weed of rice in the United States.

Brief description

Annual or perennial. Stems submerged, floating or emergent. Leaves alternate (H. zosterifolia, H. dubia), or appearing to be in a rosette (e.g. H. limosa); petiolate or sessile, leaf base sheathed; blade linear, reniform or ovate, venation parallel or palmate, or apparently absent (H. dubia). Inflorescence a spike or paired or solitary flowers, subtended by 2 reduced, sheathing leaves (spathes). Flowers showy but delicate; tubular perianth of 6 tepals in 2 whorls of 3, blue-purple, yellow or white; stamens 3. Dispersal by seed or stem fragments.

Natural habitat

still waters such as ponds, lakes, swamps, and marshes

Additional comments

Heteranthera comprises approximately 10 species, of which H. zosterifolia and H. dubia are cultivated for the aquarium trade, while H. reniformis and H. limosa are cultivated for the pond plant trade. Heteranthera dubia (sometimes placed in Zosterella) has narrow stems, linear leaves that lack apparent venation, and a yellow flower. Heteranthera zosterifolia has linear leaves, H. reniformis has cordate to kidney shaped leaves, and H. limosa has ovate to oblong shaped leaves.Monochoria is easily differentiated from Heteranthera by the presence of six stamens, while Heteranthera has three.