Kidney-leaf mud plantain (Heteranthera reniformis)

If you see this plant contact your council weeds officer, the NSW Invasive Plants & Animals Enquiry Line 1800 680 244 or email
Also known as: heteranthera



Kidney-leaf mud plantain is a sprawling annual or perennial aquatic plant. It is able to form dense mats and colonise open shallow water, such as disturbed wetlands and flooded rice production. Such characteristics make this weed a potential threat to native vegetation and freshwater aquatic habitats.


Kidney-leaf mud plantain has a wide natural distribution, originating from North, Central and South America. It has naturalised in Italy, Spain and areas of the USA that are outside of its native range. Heteranthera is a weed of rice crops in a number of European countries; particularly in Italy where rice yields have been drastically reduced by the presence of this weed.

Kidney-leaf mud plantain was introduced to Australia as an ornamental pond plant and has been actively promoted on a number of Australian websites. In February 2006, a naturalised population was found in northern Sydney. Then in late 2007, another population was located in coastal South East Queensland. Soon after, more than 20 additional sites were found in South East Queensland.

A number of small infestations have occurred in New South Wales (NSW) in the upper Richmond catchment, and in the Bellingen, Wyong, Newcastle and Dungog local government areas. More significant infestations have occurred at Coffs Harbour and Gloucester. All current infestations are subject to active control programs.

Distribution map


Kidney-leaf mud plantain's main method of dispersal is through vegetative reproduction. Any stem fragment containing one or more nodes is capable of producing a new plant. Plant fragments can be washed downstream or moved to a new location in mud stuck to animals or vehicles.

Seeds are winged and small, allowing them to be dispersed by wind and water. Seeds are capable of existing in the soil for many years.


Kidney-leaf mud plantain is 20–50 cm tall and grows in fresh water less than 15 cm deep and on damp soil at the water’s edge. The stems can grow along the mud under the water, with leaves and stems emerging, or the whole plant can float. Roots occur at nodes along the stem.

Key identification features

  • Leaves are kidney-shaped, bright green and glossy, up to 5 cm wide and arranged alternately along the stem. They are attached to a stalk 2–13 cm long and are either floating or emerging above the water.  Occasionally, a cluster of basal leaves may occur without a stalk.
  • Leaves of seedlings are narrow broadening with age.
  • Flowering stems are a spike 1–9 cm long containing 2–8 flowers. Each flower has six white-to-pale blue petals. Flowers open a few hours after sunrise, wilting by early afternoon. Flowering occurs summer and autumn in temperate to subtropical areas and all year in the tropics.
  • Fruits are capsules 0.5–0.9 mm long and contain 8–14 winged seeds.


Kidney-leaf mud plantain will quickly colonise open sunny areas but does not grow well in shaded areas, or amongst taller growing vegetation such as sedges and tall grasses. It is most commonly found along roadside ditches, streams, ponds, drains, freshwater tidal mudflats and riverbeds.


Reviewed by: Charlie Mifsud, Rod Ensbey; Edited by: Elissa van Oosterhout


Csurhes S (2008) Kidneyleaf mudplantain Heteranthera reniformis Pest Plant Risk Assessment, Queensland Government–Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane

Hosking JR, Sainty GR, Jacobs SWL & Dellow LL (in prep) The Australian WeedBOOK

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A local council weeds officer will assist with identification, control information, removal and eradication. Kidney-leaf mud plantain is capable of spreading from plant fragments and strict hygiene procedures are required for the control of this plant.

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Only products registered for aquatic use)
Rate: 200ml per 10 L of water
Comments: Foliar application
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2020
Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 10 g per 100 L of water
Comments: Foliar application in terrestrial situations only.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High

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Legal requirements

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

Area Class Legal requirements
All of NSW 1 State Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant

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Reviewed 2014