Little Floating Heart - Deer Cabbage
Nymphoides indica, Var: aquatica, cordata, peltata, coreana
Menyanthaceae (Bogbean) Family
This is an attractive, fast-growing, perennial water plant. It has flat, rounded, floating leaves, and delicate white or yellow flowers appearing in late summer. Its preferred habitat is pools, ponds, lakes, sloughs and at the edge of slow moving streams. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region. The plant is closely related and often referred to as "floating hearts" because of the heart-shaped, bright green leaves that lie on the water surface like water lilies.
The leaves are simple, cordate (heart-shaped), no teeth and no lobes, rounded tip and leaf stalks attached to the stem.
The flowers are usually white with yellow centers. Each petal has feathery edges. The flower is attached just below the leaf and floating on the surface in clusters; five sepals, five petals that may be tinged with yellow; five stamens.
Although the plant bears some resemblance to the water lily, it is not related. New plants are formed all the time where the floating stolons (above-ground, modified stems) form tufted plantlets along the length of the stolon. The mother plant has a short, thick stem that is rooted in the mud at the bottom of the pond. In its natural habitat the plant may be subject to periods where the water dries up. In this case it forms roots at the nodes to help it survive.
The beautiful plants make a useful addition to ornamental ponds, especially for gardeners who may be searching for indigenous alternatives to exotic water plants.