Blue waterleaf

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blue waterleaf

Hydrolea ovata Nutt. ex Choisy

Plant Symbol = HYOV

Contributed By: USDA NRCS Nacogdoches (TX) Technical Office and the National Plant Data Center

image of blue waterleaf (hydrolea ovata)

Robert Mohlenbrock

USDA, NRCS, Wetland Science Institute


Alternate Names

Hairy hydrolea, false fiddleleaf, ovate falsefiddleleaf


This plant is utilized for wetland restoration.


Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

General: Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae). Hydrolea ovata, a native, rhizomatous perennial, which rarely reaches a height of more than 2 feet, is a very distinctive plant due to its spiny stems and deep blue flowers. Leaves are entire, alternate, somewhat oval in shape and deep green in color. A single spine (usually 0.5-inch long) arises from each leaf node.
No similar genera are found in wet sites in Texas. There are three (some argue 4) species of Hydrolea in Texas. Hydrolea spinosa is more common in south Texas and is very similar to Hydrolea ovata. Hydrolea uniflora is more common in east Texas, eastern Oklahoma, and the southeastern US and does not have very showy flowers. Other species of Hydrolea are found in southeastern U.S. without spines, or only a few spines. All Hydrolea species are found in wet areas and have the deep blue flowers.


Found from Texas and Missouri to Florida. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation: Hydrolea ovata is an obligate wetland plant (found in wetlands 99% of the time) and likes full sun. It is found most commonly in depressions, roadside ditches that pond water for long periods, and ponded areas in pastures of the Gulf Coast Prairie, Pineywoods, and Post-Oak Savanna regions of Texas. It is also very common along livestock pond edges, often forming monoculture stands.

Cultivars, Improved and Selected Materials (and area of origin)

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.” These plant materials are somewhat available from commercial sources.

Davis, L. 2000. Texas plant fact sheet: Hydrolea ovata. USDA, NRCS, Nacogdoches Technical Office #2, Nacogdoches, Texas.

USDA, NRCS 2000. The PLANTS database. . 001206. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Prepared By

Lee Davis

USDA, NRCS, Nacogdoches Technical Office #2, Nacogdoches, Texas

Species Coordinator

Lee Davis

USDA, NRCS, Nacogdoches Technical Office #2, Nacogdoches, Texas
Edited 09jan01 jsp; 14feb03 ahv; 060801 jsp
For more information about this and other plants, please contact your local NRCS field office or Conservation District, and visit the PLANTS Web site or the Plant Materials Program Web site
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Read about Civil Rights at the Natural Resources Convervation Service.

Plant Materials

Plant Fact Sheet/Guide Coordination Page

National Plant Data Center

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