Hydrocleys nymphoides

Family name: Limnocharitaceae
Common name: water poppy
Category: 1a NEMBA

Hydrocleys nymphoides landscape


Hydrocleys nymphoides (Willd.) Buchenau is an aquatic perennial with leaves that are heart-shaped, thick, broad and rounded at the base. The leaves taper towards the tip and are shiny and dark green in colour. Its stems are long and trailing. Flowers are a light yellow with a red and brown centre; they are produced throughout summer (if growing conditions are favourable) and stand above water. The plants' seeds are small and horseshoe shaped.
Hydrocleys nymphoides leaf


Native in Central and South America, naturalised in Australia and some parts of the United States. 

How it spreads

The water poppy is a stoloniferous plants, it spreads via stolons that are rooted to the soil at intervals.

History in South Africa

The water poppy was introduced into South Africa as an ornamental plant. This plant has been recorded at the dam near Cedara Agricultural Research Station in KwaZulu-Natal and also in the Vaal River.

Environmental and economic impacts

 The water poppy has a tendency to block waterways which results in the disturbance of trade and recreational activities. It covers the water surface, resulting in the death of organisms in the water. This leads to low quality drinking water and poses health problems. It also reduces sunlight for other aquatic plants. 

Hydrocleys nymphoides in pond

How to eradicate

Hydrocleys nymphoides is controlled by hand pulling. There are no herbicides registered for this species in South Africa. 

What you can do to help

Report sightings of these plants to the Invasive Species Programme at SANBI. If possible, please provide us with a locality description, a photograph and the GPS coordinates.

For more information:

Alex Marsh or Ruqaya Adams

Tel: +27 21 799 8403/4

Email: invasivespecies@sanbi.org.za


Hlobisile Sithole


  • Bromilow, C. 2010. Problem plants and Alien weeds of South Africa. Briza publications. South Africa
  • Invasive species in South Africa. 2010. Hydrocleys nymphoides. Working for water nursery partnership programme. South Africa. Available on http://invasives.org.za/flora-listed-invasives/hydrocleys-nymphoides.html
  •  MacRoberts, M.H. and MacRoberts, B.R. 2010. Hydrocleys nymphoides (Limnocharitaceae). New to Louisiana. Available on http://www.phytoneuron.net/phytoN-Hydrocleys.pdf
  • Martin, G.D and Coetzee, J.A. 2011. Pet stores, aquarists and the internet trade as modes of introduction and spread of invasive macrophytes in South Africa. Available on website http://www.ajol.info/index.php/article/viewFile/68488/56566
  • South African plants invaders atlas database. ARC - Plant protection research institute, Pretoria, South Africa. Available on: www.agis.agric.za
  • Stephens, K.M. and Dowling, R.M. 2002. Wetland plant of Queensland: a field guide. CSIRO publishers. Australia.

See more on invasive plants and their categories

Prepared by Buhle Mthembu October 2011

Last updated on 11 September 2014
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