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Salvinia molesta
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Salvinia molesta D. D. Mitch., 1972

Species:S. molesta
Common Names:Water Spangle


The rhizome is hairy and rootless. Fronds are in whorls of threes, two being green and floating with the upper surface exposed to the air and the third divided into numerous root-like segments and submerged in the water. The green fronds are entire, 1.2-1 cm, ovoid with cordate base, longer than wide, slightly folded at the tip. The upper surface of these fronds are covered with numerous egg-beater type hairs. Sporocarps are borne on the submerged fronds, each enclosed by an indusium, the megsporangia and microsporangia in separate sporocarps.

Read more about the Polypodiales order.
Read more about the Salviniaceae family.


Pantropical in distribution, mostly introduced.


Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Locality Map

General Biology

This is an invasive weed of open freshwaters.

Life Cycle

For an account of the life history of a fern, see Pyrrosia piloselloides.

Ecological Role

This water fern was originally introduced in the 1950s to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the then University of Malaya in Singapore (now National University of Singapore) for teaching purposes. Regular floods along Bukit Timah Road helped spread the fern to fish ponds in rural areas. In the 1980s it found its way into the waters of Lower Peirce and Seletar Reservoirs, proliferating to such an extent that it threatened the purity of the potable water there.Huge efforts were made to control its spread.


de Winter, W. P. & V. B. Amoroso (eds.), 2003. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 15(2). Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies. Prosea Foundation, Borgor, Indonesia. 268 pp.

Holttum, R. E., 1966. A revised flora of Malaya. II Ferns of Malaya. Govt. Printing Office, Singapore (2nd ed.). 653 pp.

Parris, B. S., R. Khew, R. C. K. Chung, L. G. Saw & E. Soepadmo (eds.), 2010. Flora of Peninsular Malaysia. Series I: Ferns and Lycophytes. Vol. 1. Malayan Forest records No. 48. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kepong. 249 pp.

Wee, Y. C., 1986. Aquatic weed problems in Singapore's freshwater reservoir. In: Symposium on Weed Science (eds. J.V. Pancho, S.S. Sastroutomo & S. Tjitrosemito), pp. 25-29. BIOTROP Special Publication No. 24, Bogor.

Wee, Y. C., 2005. Ferns of the tropics. Times Editions-Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. 2nd ed. 190 pp.

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