Quick Facts


Scientific name Pistia stratiotes
Origin (some debate native vs. exotic) South America
Introduction Colonial period, ship ballast (?)
Aquatic community Floating
Habitat Water surfaces
Distribution Peninsula, rare in panhandle
Management effort Maintenance control
2017 public waters / plant acres 147 (32%) / 1,999
2017 Waters / acres controlled Water lettuce 27 / 344
Lettuce / hyacinth mix 153 / 24,297
Pistia stratiotesPistia stratiotes

Management Options

Biological 2 host-specific insects (ineffective to date)
Chemical Diquat, flumioxazin; carfentrazone
Occasionally copper near drinking water intakes
Mechanical Harvest around bridges and flood control structures
Physical Occasional winter drawdowns (drying and desiccation)

Environmental and Economic Concerns

  • Growth rate similar to water hyacinth – can double in a few weeks
  • Reproduce by seeds and stolons
  • Harbors mosquitoes
  • Dense mats prevent air and light diffusion into water, consume oxygen
    • displacing native plants, fish and wildlife
    • preventing decomposition of detritus
  • Increases sedimentation by shedding roots, leaves and shoots
  • Rapid dispersal by wind and water movement
  • Mats jam against bridges and reduce water flow at flood control structures
  • Reduces property values and local tax revenues

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Status of the Aquatic Plant Maintenance Program in Florida Public Waters, Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2016-2017.