The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Nymphoides cristata
Nymphoides cristata
(crested floating-heart)

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Nymphoides cristata (Roxb.) Kuntze

Common name: crested floating-heart

Synonyms and Other Names: Limnanthemum cristatum (Roxburgh) Grisebach, Menyanthes cristata Roxburgh, Villarsia cristata (Roxburgh) Sprengel, Nymphoides hydrophylla (Loureiro) Kuntze

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: When flowers are present, this species of Nymphoides is easy to differentiate from other species of the genus. Flowers are white, with yellow throats, five-petaled, and have a distinct erect fold of petal tissue, or “crest,” along the midvein of the upper surface of each petal lobe (Burks 2002). Flowers 1-2 cm wide.  Fruits are capsules (6 mm long) and contain up to 20 seeds. Flowers may be pistillate (female) or hermaphroditic (both male and female) (Tippery and Les 2011). Flowers clustered and borne at distal stem nodes that rise just above the water surface (Burks 2002; Anderson and Frank 2014).

Nymphoides cristata plants mostly are rooted in the bottom sediments of shallow waters, but can be free-floating with clusters of tapered tuberous roots suported by floating leaves (Willey and Langeland 2011).

Leaves ovate to circular and often reddish or purple below. Leaf margins are entire and often tinged red.  Leaves form at the terminus of long floating stems. When subtending leaf tubers mature, the plant becomes free-floating for a period of time (Burks 2002).

Size: Up to 3 meters long (Burks 2002)

Native Range: Asia – India and Sri Lanka to Taiwan and north into China (Burks 2002)

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Nymphoides cristata are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL1995202316Big Cypress Swamp; Blackwater; Caloosahatchee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Lower Choctawhatchee; Lower St. Johns; Manatee; Oklawaha; Sarasota Bay; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Withlacoochee
LA201220222Amite; Caddo Lake
MS201620191Lower Big Black
SC200620223Cooper; Lake Marion; Santee
TX2014202210Buffalo-San Jacinto; Caddo Lake; Lower Brazos; Lower Trinity-Kickapoo; Pine Island Bayou; Sabine Lake; Spring; Upper Neches; Village; West Fork San Jacinto

Table last updated 6/24/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The genus Nymphoides contains approximately 50 species globally (Tippery and Les 2011), mostly found in tropical regions (Ornduff and Mosquin 1970).

Nymphoides cristata disperses vegetatively when leaves and associated adventitious roots become free-floating for a period of time, eventually sinking to the bottom and giving rise to new plants (Mason and van der Valk 1992; Willey and Langeland 2011). 

The plant reproduces vegetatively from tubers, daughter plants, rhizomes and fragmentation. Once established, this species rapidly colonizes and spreads to new locations in the waterbody to form mats of overlapping floating leaves that shade submersed aquatic vegetation. Dense mats impede water flow and can reduce dissolved oxygen in the water column below the mat (Burks 2002; Willey and Langeland 2011).

Means of Introduction: Commonly cultivated as an ornamental species for ponds and aquaria, N. cristata has been released into lakes, canals and other waters with some nuisance populations becoming established (Burks 2002). Secondary infestations may result as seed and vegetative propagules disperse downstream or within a waterbody, or to new waterbodies as a hitchhiker (Willey and Langeland 2011).

Status: Established or unknown status in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


Florida populations of N. cristata form mats of overlapping floating leaves that shade the water column while impeding water flow and aeration (Burks 2002). N. cristata may displace native plants and alter communities (FLEPPC 2015).

References: (click for full references)

Anderson, L.C. (curator). 2009. Herbarium Specimen Voucher Data, Florida State University (FSU), Herbarium. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu/.

Anderson, P.J., and M.S. Frank. 2014. Pest alert: Nymphoides cristata, crested floating heart, a recently listed state noxious weed. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, Avon Park, FL. http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/40357/871941/Pest-Alert_Nymphoides-cristata.pdf.

Baker, R.J. 2015. Aerial treatments underway for invasive plants on lake. Manning Live. Manning, SC. http://manninglive.com/2015/07/30/aerial-treatments-underway-for-invasive-plants-on-lake/. Created on 07/29/2015. Accessed on 08/14/2015.

Burks, K.C. 2002. Nymphoides cristata (Roxb.) Kuntze, a recent adventive expanding as a pest plant in Florida. Castanea 67(2):206-211.

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. 2015. EDDMapS: Early detection and distribution mapping system. The University of Georgia, Tifton, GA. http://www.eddmaps.org.

FLEPPC. 2015. List of Invasive Plant Species. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. http://www.fleppc.org/list/list.htm.

Mason, D., and A.G. van der Valk. 1992. Growth responses of Nymphoides indica seedlings and vegetative propagules along water depth gradient. Aquatic Botany 42:339-350.

Ornduff, R. 1966. The origin of dioecism from heterostyly in Nymphoides (Menyanthaceae). Evolution 20(3):309-314.

Ornduff, R., and T. Mosquin. 1970. Variation in the spectral qualities of flowers in the Nymphoides indica complex (Menyanthaceae) and its possible adaptive significance. Canadian Journal of Botany 48:603-605.

Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. 2015. Texas Invasives Database. http://www.texasinvasives.org/. Accessed on 11/20/2015.

Tippery, N.P., and D.H. Les. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships and morphological evolution in Nymphoides (Menyanthaceae). Systematic Botany 36(4):1101-1113.

University of Connecticut. 2011. CONN. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. http://www.gbif.org/dataset/5288946d-5fcf-4b53-8fd3-74f4cc6b53fc. Created on 09/08/2011. Accessed on 11/20/2015.

Willey, L.N., and K.A. Langeland. 2011. Aquatic weeds: crested floating heart (Nymphoides cristata). Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Author: Thayer, D.D., and I.A. Pfingsten

Revision Date: 10/22/2018

Peer Review Date: 3/23/2016

Citation Information:
Thayer, D.D., and I.A. Pfingsten, 2024, Nymphoides cristata (Roxb.) Kuntze: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2216, Revision Date: 10/22/2018, Peer Review Date: 3/23/2016, Access Date: 6/24/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/24/2024].

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