Water Primrose

Photo of water primrose plant showing typical roots, leaves, stems, and a flower
Scientific Name
Ludwigia peploides
Onagraceae (evening primroses)

A common shoreline plant with bright yellow flowers usually having 5 petals. Blooms May–October. Stems long, trailing, creeping out across the water’s surface, can reroot from cuttings. Leaves shiny, dark green, alternate, variously shaped from oval to narrow and willowlike. Roots are of two types: typical roots that grow downward and take nutrients from the soil, and “air roots” or “breathing roots” that are white, spongy, grow upward, and float — these apparently absorb gases from the air.

Similar species: There are 11 species of Ludwigia in Missouri, which all have 4 petals or, lacking petals, 4 sepals (not 5).

Where To Find
image of Water Primrose distribution map


Grows in dense mats in the shallow areas of ponds, lakes, and streams.

When this species grows too rampantly in fishing ponds and waterways, it can become a nuisance and require control. People have introduced this plant all over the world, where it can become a noxious weed.

Colonies of aquatic plants are important nurseries for fish and other aquatic life, providing sustenance and shelter and for the small creatures at the base of aquatic food chains.

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Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!