Water Lettuce, Water Cabbage

(Pistia stratiotes)


Water lettuce often looks like a floating open head of lettuce.


Water lettuce is a floating plant that looks like an open head of lettuce. Light green leaves are hairy and ridged (parallel veins) with rounded edges. These wedge- or oval-shaped leaves grow six to ten inches long, point upward, and are clustered together on short branches.  Water lettuce roots are submersed, long, and feathery.

Dense mats of water lettuce can clog waterways, preventing use of the water and possibly causing fish kills due to oxygen depletion if the entire surface is covered. Water lettuce can crowd out native plants and block access to the water for wildlife. This changes the dynamics of an area when animals depend on certain plants that have been pushed away by the water lettuce. The animals then need to search for what they need elsewhere.


Water lettuce can be found in states in the southern half of the U.S. plus some east coast states.


Seeds, fragments