Limnocharis flava
Common Name: yellow velvetleaf 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Alismataceae
Native Range: West Indies, tropical Americas
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Water Plant, Herb
Leaf: Evergreen
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Easily grown in shallow, stagnant, freshwater areas in full sun. Intolerant of shade. This plant is highly aggressive and will rapidly take over any area where it is planted. It can clog irrigation systems, push out native wetland vegetation, and create habitat for disease carrying mosquitoes. Do not plant if this species is listed as invasive or potentially invasive in your area. Hardy in Zones 10-12.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Limnocharis flava, commonly called yellow velvetleaf, sawah lettuce, or yellow bur-head, is an aquatic, rhizomatous perennial native to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean where it is found growing in shallow, muddy, fresh water swamps and ditches. In ephemeral bodies of water that experience a dry season, this plant will grow as an annual. This plant is highly aggressive and will quickly establish in any shallow freshwater. It has become a significant weed of rice fields, streams, and wetlands throughout Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and India, where it is thought to have been introduced through imported rice as well as ornamental plantings. It is also considered to be invasive in the southeastern United States and northeastern Australia. Mature plants will form clumps up to 2' tall with an equal spread from a stout rhizome. The basal foliage has long, triangle-shaped pedioles (leaf stems) and round to ovate blades reaching up to 8" across. Upright, triangular scapes topped with umbels of 2-15 flowers emerge from the centers of the foliage throughout the year. The individual blooms have a thick pedicel (flower stem) and three pale yellow petals. Mature seed capsules contain around 1000 seeds and will split into multiple floating segments, aiding in dispersal. The leaves and young flowering stalks can be cooked and used in soups and mixed vegetable dishes.

The genus name Limnocharis comes from the Greek words limne meaning "marsh" and charis meaning "beauty", in reference to the native habitat and beauty of the flowers.

The specific epithet flava means "yellow", in reference to the color of the blooms.


No major pest or disease problems. This plant is highly aggressive and will quickly establish in any shallow freshwater, potentially wreaking havoc on sensitive wetland ecosystems.


Plant only where this species is not listed as invasive or potentially invasive. Use as a pond edger or in water containers.