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Published In: Revisio Generum Plantarum 2: 429. 1891. (5 Nov 1891) (Revis. Gen. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/25/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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1. Nymphoides peltata (S.G. Gmel.) Kuntze (yellow floating heart)

Limnanthemum peltatum S.G. Gmel.

Pl. 456 f, g; Map 2075

Plants with moderately slender rhizomes bearing widely spaced, long-petiolate leaves and also ascending, branched, petiolelike stems, each branch bearing 1 or more shorter-petiolate leaves at the tip and often also an inflorescence and a cluster of tuberous roots (these appearing spurlike or bananalike), the leaf bases not persistent on the stems. Leaf blades floating, simple, 4–15 cm long and wide, more or less circular, deeply cordate at the base, the undersurface often faintly to strongly purplish-tinged or mottled. Inflorescences umbels or appearing as loose umbellate clusters, terminal on the ascending stem branches, the flowers lacking bracts. Calyces 8–12 mm long, the lobes elliptic-lanceolate, loosely ascending at flowering. Corollas 20–28 mm long, the margins appearing somewhat wavy and irregularly cut or loosely fringed, bright yellow, the lobes appearing somewhat corrugated, oblong, spreading, the inner surface glabrous. Staminodes 5, attached to the corolla tube opposite the lobes, each appearing as a small tuft or fringe of hairs. Fruits maturing underwater, 12–25 mm long, ovoid, the wall somewhat fleshy, eventually dehiscing irregularly. Seeds 4–5 mm long, obovate in outline, strongly flattened, the margins with a dense fringe of long hairs, the surface finely pebbled, light brown to yellow, not shiny. 2n=54. May–September.

Introduced, known thus far only from historical collections from Iron, Newton, and St. Louis Counties and an extant site in Franklin County (native of Europe and Asia; introduced sporadically in the United States). Floating-leaved aquatics in ponds.

The species epithet has been misspelled “peltatum” in some of the earlier literature (Steyermark, 1963), but the generic ending “oides” is to be considered feminine. The flowering cycle is structurally complex and difficult to describe. From a node along the rhizome develops an ascending petiole-like stem, which is often few-branched. Each fertile branch has at its tip a pair of leaves, these often unequal in size. The umbellate cluster of long-stalked flowers also arises from this branch tip, and usually the plant also produces a small cluster of spurlike or bananalike tuberous roots (in the aquarium trade, plants are often marketed as “underwater banana plants”). The flower buds mature at different times and each flower lasts but a single day, opening at the water surface around mid-morning and withering by late afternoon. Afterward, the flower stalk recurves and the fruit develops over a two- to three-month period underwater, eventually bursting irregularly and releasing seeds into the water. In spite of this complicated phenology, the species is often spread vegetatively by stem fragments.

Nymphoides peltata is widely cultivated as an ornamental in aquariums and ponds, although it can spread so aggresively as to interfere with oxygen exchange across the pond surface, penetration of light to reach submerged flora and fauna, and the activities of fishing enthusiasts. Stuckey (1974) summarized the North American distribution and spread of the species, from the first noncultivated specimens collected in New York City in the 1880s to its sporadic spread westward to Arizona and Washington (and more recently also California). He suggested that it had escaped from cultivation independentally several times in different regions and that individual populations often do not persist for very many years. The extant population in Franklin County apparently was not intentionally planted at the site and has existed there for well over a decade, resisting attempts at mechanical removal and the application of herbicides.



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