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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Pontederiaceae (Water Hyacinth family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Commelinales

Water or marsh plants. There are nine genera and 33 species (tropics, extending to temperate regions), with three genera and three species native to southern Africa , and one genus and two species (both aquatic weeds) naturalised in the region. One of the latter species is Eichornia crassipes (Water hyacinth), which is a particularly invasive species that clogs waterways.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


Seven species (tropical America and Africa), with one species, Eichhornia natans, native to southern Africa and another species, Eichornia crassipes (Water hyacinth), a troublesome introduced aquatic weed in the region.


About nine species (African and American tropics and subtropics), with one species, Heteranthera callifolia, native to southern Africa.



Eight species (tropical Africa, Asia and Australia), with one species, Monochoria africana, native to southern Africa (Mpumalanga).

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


Four species (warm regions of America), with one species, Pontederia cordata (Pickerel weed), which is naturalised and a declared Category 3 invasive plant in South Africa.



  • Glen, R.P. 2000. Pontederiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 726-728. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Glen, R.P. and Cook, C.D.K. 2003. Pontederiaceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 1194. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.