Hydrophyllum canadense L.

Broadleaf Waterleaf

Hydrophyllum canadense plant

Family - Hydrophyllaceae

Stem - Ascending to erect, to 50 cm, sparsely pubescent.


Leaf - Leaves basal and alternate, petiolate. Blades broadly ovate, to 30 cm long, shallowly to deeply lobed, coarsely toothed, sparsely pubescent. Basal leaves often with the upper surface mottled.

Hydrophyllum_canadense_leafLeaf abaxial.

Inflorescence - Compact clusters, irregularly branched and sometimes slightly scorpiod. Inflorescences usually situated underneath the stem leaves.


Calyx - Calyx lobes 5, to 7 mm long, bristly-hairy on margins, lacking appendages in sinuses.


Flower - Corollas to 11 mm, bell-shaped, white to pale lavender. Filaments hairy. Stamens and style exserted. Single pistil of 2 fused carpels. Ovary unilocular.



Fruits - Globose capsules, 3-4 mm, hairy, 1-3 seeded.

Hydrophyllum_canadense_fruitsImmature infructescences.

Flowering - May - July.

Habitat - Mesic and bottomland forests.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - Dense vegetative carpets of this species are not uncommon in rich bottomlands; however, differentiation from H. appendiculatum is difficult unless fertile material is present. Because the flowers are borne beneath the leaf canopy, they are often missed at a casual glance. The basal leaves will persist throughout the growing season if the ground is kept moist, making an attractive native ground cover for shaded garden areas. According to Steyermark, the young foliage can be cooked and eaten.

Photographs taken at Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 4-24-2017, and at Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 6-6-2018 (SRTurner).