FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Salvinia minima

Common Name(s): Water spangles, water fern


Tropical America.

Ecological Impact

Occurs in freshwater ponds and swamps. Spreads rapidly into a monoculture, shading out underwater natives, leaving large bare bottom areas. Dense infestations block out sunlight and decreases oxygen concentrations, impacting fish and other aquatic species. Listed as a category I invasive species by Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC).


Free-floating fern about 0.75 inches in width and 4 inches long. leaves are arranged in whorls of 3 and oval in shape. The surface of its leaf is covered with white, stiff hairs. Leaves are green and change to a rusty brown with maturity. Has a root-like structure, which are actually modified fronds.

Identification Tips

Salvinia minima is smaller than other Salvinia species and is readily distinguished from S. molesta by the morphology of its leaf hairs. S. minima hairs are split four ways near the tip, S. molesta hairs are also split, however, the come together at the tip forming an egg- beater type structure.


Believed to have been introduced to Florida between the 1920s-1930s for ornament.


Has been found throughout north, central and southern counties of Florida.

Management Strategies

Remove plant by raking surface of water.


Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

Share Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Email
Florida Invasive Plants