Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Justicia americana

American water-willow, Water-willow

Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family)

Justicia americana (American water-willow)
Livings, Hal
An aquatic with bicolored flowers in dense, head-like or spike-like clusters on long slender stalks rising from leaf axils.

This colony-forming plant has underground stems. Loose-flowered Water-willow (J. ovata), a similar species found from Virginia south to Florida and Alabama, has more loosely flowered spikes.

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38 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acuminate
Leaf Base: Cuneate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Leaf: Dark Green
Flower: Flowers 1.2 cm long
Fruit: Brown 12 mm
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , MD , MI , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , DC
Canada: ON , QC
Native Distribution: Ontario and Quebec; New York south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Native Habitat: In water, moist soil, and mud in east and southeast Texas, on the Edwards Plateau, and in north central Texas. Sand, loam, clay, mud. Poor drainage okay.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: American water-willow blooms throughout the summer and colonizes by underground stems. It will grow in moist soil or submerged in a few feet of water. Larval food plant for the Texan Crescentspot butterfly. Good for wetland gardens and habitat.


Use Ornamental: Water garden
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Texan Crescentspot butterfly
Deer Resistant: Minimal

Last Update: 2015-07-03