Ludwigia leptocarpa

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Ludwigia leptocarpa
Ludw lept1.jpg
Photo by Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Myrtales
Family: Onagraceae
Genus: Ludwigia
Species: L. leptocarpa
Binomial name
Ludwigia leptocarpa
(Nutt.) H. Hara
Ludw lept dist.jpg
Natural range of Ludwigia leptocarpa from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Water-willow[1]

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Jussiaea leptocarpa Nuttall.[1]

Varieties: none.[1]

The specific epithet L. leptocarpa means slender-fruited.[2]


“Repent or erect, usually branched, short-lived perennials, or rarely annual. Floral parts in 4-7’s; hypanthium is not prolonged beyond the ovary. Capsules longitudinally or poricidally multiseriate, rarely uniseriate. Most of the erect species produce basal offshoots, which have ovate to obovate leaves, in the late summer and fall. Bracteoles occur in pairs on the pedicel or stipe or the base of the hypanthium.”[3]

"Stems erect, branched, pubescent, to 1 m tall. Leaves alternate, elliptic, pubescent, to 12 cm long and 3 cm wide; sessile or subsessile. Sepals 5-7, lanceolate, pubescent, 4.5-7 mm long, 2-3 mm wide; petals 5-7, 5.5-7.5 mm long, 4-8 mm wide. Capsules cylindric, 2-5 cm long, 2-3.5 mm in diam.; bracteoles subulate, ca. 0.5 mm long; pedicels absent or to 2 cm long; seeds uniseriate, free inside brownish endocarp."[3]


This plant ranges from Virginia to central peninsular Florida, west to eastern Texas, and north along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, and western West Virginia. It also grows in tropical America.[1] Individuals occurring at the northern edge of the range in North America behave as an annual species while those in the southern range are perennial.[4]



Habitats of L. leptocarpa in the Coastal Plain in Florida include lake margins, around cypress ponds, wet ditches bordering swamps, drainage ditches bordering pine flatwoods, wet sloughs, inter-dune ponds, and growing on decaying vegetation. It has been observed growing in disturbed areas such as roadways and Kudzu dominated seepage areas. Soil types include sandy loam, loamy sand, sandy soil, peaty sand, and sandy peat. Associated species include Cephalanthus occidentalis, Eupatorium compositifolium, Hypericum walteri, Ludwigia decurrens, Nymphaea odorata, Panicum, Polygonum hirsutum, Salix nigra, Utricularia subulata, L. decurrens, and L. sphaerocarpa.[5]

In rice paddies and other cultivated swampland, it can become a serious weed.[6]


L. leptocarpa flowers from June through October.[1] Reproduction can be either vegetative or sexual.[6] Depending on the location, it can be either an annual or perennial species.[4]

Seed dispersal

The seeds have a specialized endocarp that remains attached and enable the seed to float. The seed capsule length is highly correlated with seed number.[4]

Seed bank and germination

Dolan (1984) found that seed size does influence germination, with smaller seeds germinating quicker due to the thinner seed coats for the embryos to penetrate. They also observed that populations in South Carolina have little or no seed banks.

Biomass and seed production increases under higher environmental temperatures.[7]


Ludwigia leptocarpa has been observed at the Archbold Biological Station to be visited by bees from the Apidae family such as Apis mellifera and Bombus impatiens and wasps from the Vespidae family such as Polistes fuscatus.[8]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

L. leptocarpa is also found in tropical Africa and has been used in Nigerian folk medicine for the treatment of rheumatism and dysentery (Burkill 1997). It also contains flavonoids, cerebrosides and triterpenoids.[9]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

Dolan, R. W. (1984). "The Effect of Seed Size and Maternal Source on Individual Size in a Population of Ludwigia leptocarpa (Onagraceae)." American Journal of Botany 71(9): 1302-1307.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. [[1]] Encyclopedia of Life Accessed: February 6, 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 744-5. Print.">Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 744-5. Print.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dolan, R. W. and R. R. Sharitz (1984). "Population Dynamics of Ludwigia Leptocarpa (Onagraceae) and Some Factors Affecting Size Hierarchies in a Natural Population." Journal of Ecology 72(3): 1031-1041.
  5. Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, K. Craddock Burks, George R. Cooley, A.H. Curtiss, Richard J. Eaton, William B. Fox, J.P. Gillespie, Robert K. Godfrey, Gary R. Knight, R. Komarek, R. Kral, Karen MacClendon, Travis MacClendon, Richard S. Mitchell, R.A. Norris, James D. Ray Jr., Annie Schmidt. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Calhoun, Duval, Franklin, Gadsden, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Oziegbe, M. and J. O. Faluyi (2011). "Reproductive biology of Ludwigia leptocarpa and L. adscendens subs. diffusa in Ile Ife, Nigeria." Tubitak 36: 167-173.
  7. Christy, E. J. and R. R. Sharitz (1980). "Characteristics of Three Populations of a Swamp Annual Under Different Temperature Regimes." Ecology 61(3): 454-460.
  8. Deyrup, M.A. and N.D. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Mabou et al. 2015