Floating Plants

Floating plants may have roots that hang in the water, but the plant is not attached to the pond
bottom. Floating plants come in sizes from very small (duckweed) to over a foot in diameter
(water hyacinth).
NOTE: Lily pads are attached to the bottom and are considered emergent plants, not floating.


Some Types of Floating Plants

Mosquito Fern

Azolla (Mosquito Fern) has tiny, green or rusty red, laced-looking free floating leaves that form dense mats. Can be found in still waters of swamps, ponds, lakes, and in slow-moving water of streams and resting on mud.

Common Salvinia

Common salvinia can be found free-floating or in mud.


Native to Florida, duckweed can be found in rivers, ponds and lakes. It comes in three variations: Common, Dotted, and Giant.


Giant Salvinia

Giant Salvinia are non-native to Florida and on the noxious and prohibited lists. It grows rapidly and produces a dense floating canopy on the surface of ponds, lakes, and rivers that reduces water-flow and lower the light and oxygen levels in the water.

Rooted Water Hyacinth

Non-native rooted water hyacinth is on the noxious and prohibited lists in Florida, located in coastal rivers and lakes. Leaves under water are long and thin, above water leaves are wide and usually spongy. It is very aggressive and can form thick mats.


Native to Florida, Water meal is a tiny floating rootless plant that is barely visible to the naked eye. It forms large green masses on the surface of water about the size of a pinhead.

Water Hyacinth

Water hyacinth is non-native to Florida and often jams rivers and lakes. Underwater leaves are long and thin, above water are wide and usually spongy.

Water Lettuce

Experts disagree as to whether water lettuce is native to the United States.  It has in Florida since as early as 1765. The floating plant forms large dense mats that prevent boating, fishing and other uses of rivers, lakes, and canals. Its leaves are light dull green, hairy, ridged, very thick and look like a head of lettuce.