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Mexican Primrose Willow Ludwigia octovalvis

The Mexican Primrose Willow (Ludwigia octovalvis) is a member of the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae).  It is a native plant found in southern coastal states from Texas to North Carolina.  It is found throughout Florida.  Other names for this plant are Water Primrose and Narrow-leaf Water Primrose.

This perennial likes sunny, wet areas.  It is often seen growing in marshes, ditches, and along the margins of ponds and lakes.  It is an erect multi-branched plant that can grow to a height of 5 or 6 feet.  The stems are green to reddish-green in color.  The lance-shaped leaves are green and often tinged with red.  They can be up to 4 inches in length and about ¾-inch wide.  They are attached alternately along the stem.

The showy flowers are 1 to 1-½ inches wide.  Each flower has 4 broad bright yellow petals subtended by 4 green sepals.  The petals usually have a slight notch on the top. These petals surround a pale yellow center that consists of a large spherical stigma surrounded by eight stamens with their banana-like, pollen producing anthers atop slender filaments anchored at the base.  In Florida, the flowers bloom throughout the year.  Once a flower is pollinated, its petals, stigma and stamens fall off, leaving the four triangular green sepals on top of the slender ovary. This ovary slowly develops into an elongated angled capsule containing seeds.

These flowers provide a nectar source for many pollinating insects, including bees and butterflies. The plants also serve as a larval host plant for the Banded Sphinx Moth.

The Mexican Primrose Willow has long been used for medicinal purposes.  Extracts have been consumed as a healthful drink for treating various conditions, including edema, nephritis, hypertension and diabetes.  Recent research has shown it may also be useful for treating age-related disorders.

All of the photos on this page were taken in Deep Creek in Charlotte County.

Seed capsules

Metallic Green Bee sipping nectar

Leaf Cutter Bee gathering pollen

More information on the Mexican Primrose Willow can be found by clicking on the following links:

Atlas of Florida Plants


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center