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Crowded leaves of Salvinia molesta floating in water

Image Credit: Keith Bradley, Botanist/Conservation Biologist,

Giant Salvinia

Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is currently invading waterbodies in the Southeastern U.S. and has the potential to rapidly invade and infest Florida’s ponds, lakes, and rivers. It has already caused severe economic and environmental problems in Texas and Louisiana. Giant salvinia is a free-floating aquatic fern that is most easily recognizable by its rows of hairs with four branches that join at the tip creating an egg-beater appearance. It forms floating mats that shade and crowd out native plants reducing oxygen content and degrading water quality for fish and other aquatic organisms. Thick mats can affect navigation and recreational activities. Giant salvinia is on the Federal Noxious Weed List and is prohibited in Florida. This species is part of the Early Detection Rapid Response program. If you see this plant in the wild, please report it immediately.  

Common Name: Giant Salvinia

Species Name: Salvinia molesta

Habit: An aquatic free-floating fern. Leaves can have variations in leaf shape and form due to habitat conditions. All will have arching hairs that connect at the tips that look like eggbeaters.

Origin: Northern Argentina and Southeastern Brazil

Counties Confirmed: Gadsden, Escambia, Collier, Hillsborough, Bay, Alachua, Marion

Description: Giant salvinia grows rapidly to cover the surface of lakes and streams, spreading aggressively by vegetative fragments. Floating leaves can grow between 0.5 to 1.5 inches long and be green, gold, or brown.

Habitat: Lakes, rivers

Comments: New giant salvinia infestations have been found in Florida and due to intensive management efforts have not been able to establish and spread.

Map indicating the seven counties giant salvinia has been vouchered in.

Call to Action

What can you do to help protect Florida waters?

Report giant salvinia sightings! Call the FWC Invasive Plant Management office at 1-850-617-9430 

Do not plant or transport giant salvinia. It is prohibited in the United States by Federal law.

Clean, drain, and dry all gear completely before entering another water body. It is easier and much cheaper to prevent an invasive plant from entering a waterbody than it is to manage after it becomes established. 

Report Immediately

Please report all plant Early Detection Rapid Response sightings immediately to the FWC Invasive Plant Management office at 1-850-617-9430

Photo credit: Troy Evans, Barry Rice, Robert Videki