Scientific name

Heteranthera Ruiz & Pavon

Common names

mud plantain, duck salad, water stargrass



Native distribution

North and South America, Africa

Species cultivated

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

H. limosa (Sw.) Willd.

H. reniformis Ruíz & Pav.

H. zosterifolia Mart.

Adventive distribution

Asia, Caribbean, Australia

Weed status

Heteranthera limosa and H. reniformis are weeds of rice in several countries; most species, however, are not considered serious weeds.

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 12 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.