great waterleaf

(Hydrophyllum appendiculatum)

Conservation Status
great waterleaf
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Great waterleaf is a 1 to 4 tall, erect, biennial forb that rises on a single stem from a taproot.

The stems are erect and densely hairy above the middle with both short and long, stiff, spreading hairs. They tend to zigzag between the leaves.

Basal leaves are on stalks up to 6¾ long and deeply divided into 5 or 7 lobes (pinnatifid) cut almost to the midrib.

Stem leaves are alternate and on shorter stalks, the stalks becoming gradually shorter as they ascend the stem. The blades are broadly circular in outline, 2 to 6 in diameter. They are shallowly palmately divided into usually 5 or sometimes 7 lobes, giving them a maple-like appearance. The angle between the lobes is greater than 90°. The base of the leaf is either straight across or has a broad, V-shaped indentation where it connects to the stalk.

All leaves are dark green on the upper surface and often, but not always, have pale green or whitish markings that resemble water spots. The under surface is silvery green. The lobes come to a sharp point at the tip. The margins have shallow teeth.

The inflorescence is loose, rounded clusters rising on densely hairy stalks from the upper leaf axils and at the end of the stems.

The individual flowers are bell-shaped, to ½ long on densely hairy stalks. The flower stalks have short, appressed, ascending hairs. They have 5 lavender to pinkish-purple, rarely white, petals, fused over half their length into a broad tube, then separating into 5 erect, flat-tipped lobes. There are 5 stamens with hairy filaments. The stamens and style extend only slightly beyond the petals.

The fruit is a 1-chambered capsule with 1 to 3 seeds.




1 to 4


Flower Color


Lavender to pinkish-purple


Similar Species


Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum) is a somewhat smaller plant with more deeply divided leaves and short hairs on the stems. It reaches no more than 30 at maturity. The basal and stem leaves are deeply divided into usually 5 lobes. The petals are lavender to white. The upper stems, the inflorescence stalk, and the individual flower stalks have short, appressed hairs, no long hairs. The stamens and style extend well beyond the petals. It is found throughout Minnesota.


Moist to wet. Woods.




May to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Boraginales (borages)  


Boraginaceae (borage)  
  Subfamily Hydrophylloideae (baby blue eyes, phacelias, and waterleaves)  


Hydrophyllum (waterleaves)  

Subordinate Taxa






Decemium appendiculatum


Common Names


appendaged waterleaf

great waterleaf










Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.



Deeply cut, more than half way to the midrib but not to the midrib, into lobes that are spaced out along the midrib; the lobes do not form separate leaflets.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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Stem Leaves

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Other Videos
  Flower longhorn beetle and Bee visit Hydrophyllum appendiculatum flowers
Robert Klips

Uploaded on Jun 12, 2010

A flower longhorn beetle and a bee on flowers of appendaged waterleaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum) at a woodland in Delaware, Ohio, USA on May 19, 2010.




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