Quick Facts

Species Type



Leaves are 1/4 inch wide and 1 inch in length


Grows in water up to 20 feet deep, preferring low salinity and slow-flowing streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and reservoirs


Native to South America, Brazilian waterweed has spread to most continents. In the United States, it can be found along the east coast through the Chespeake Bay watershed and in the Pacific Northwest, California, Utah, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. 

Conservation Status



The bright green leaves of Brazilian waterweed are strap-shaped and slightly serrated. They are about 1/4 inch wide and 1 inch long. The plant produces small white flowers twice a year, first in late spring and again in the fall. It will grow until it reaches the water's surface, where it will then form a dense mat. It can cover hundreds of acres until the plants die back in the fall.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Because all of the Brazilian waterweed plants in the United States are male, no female flowers or seeds are produced. Instead, the plant reproduces through the spread of plant fragments. In order to sprout new branches, a plant fragment must have a “double node” along its stem. If the “double node” is absent, it will not grow into a new plant.

Brazilian waterweed has two major growth periods each year, when water temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the spring and fall. The plant also experiences rapid growth during times of drought and slowed growth during times of heavy precipitation. The plants lose significant biomass in the winter and summer which are die-back seasons.

Did You Know?

  • Brazilian waterweed is a popular aquarium plant, sometimes sold under the name anacharis.
  • This underwater grass has spread to the United States wth the help of aquarium owners, who often dump the contents of their aquariums into nearby lakes and streams.
  • Brazilian waterweed can be considered a nuisance and has the potential to flourish in the low-salinity tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Dense stands of Brazilian waterweed can restrict water movement, trap sediment and affect water quality.

Sources and Additional Information