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Invasive Species: European Frog-bit

European Frog-bit

(Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
*Established in Michigan*


What to look for:

  • Free-floating aquatic plant sometimes rooted in shallow water.
  • Leaves are small, 0.5-2.5 inches, round to heart-shaped, with a purple-red underside.
  • Leaves form a rosette.
  • Single flower with three white petals and yellow center may be visible from June to August.

Image and description of European frog-bit plant


European frog-bit plants resemble miniature water lilies. Illustration by Bruce Kerr.

European frog-bit growing among cattails

Plants can form dense mats, often among cattails or other shallow-water vegetation (EGLE).

Small, seed-like turions in an open hand

European frog-bit turions are seed-like buds or small shoots that detach and can form new plants (EGLE).

Report this species:

If you see European frog-bit, take one or more photos, make note of the location, date and time of the observation, and report to:

About this species:

Habitat: European frog-bit is most often found in slow moving rivers, sheltered inlets, ponds, bayous and ditches. Prefers waters rich in calcium with no wave action.

Native Range: Europe, Asia and Africa.

U.S. Distribution: New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington. Also found in Quebec and Ontario, Canada.

Michigan Distribution: European frog-bit is widespread along the coastal areas of lakes Erie and Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula and and Les Cheneaux Islands (Mackinac County), and has been found in inland lakes and ponds in southeast Michigan. In Mid- and West Michigan, European frog-bit has been detected in Dansville State Game Area (Ingham County), Waterloo Recreation Area (Jackson and Washtenaw Counties), inland lakes in Kent County, the Lower Grand River in Ottawa County, Pentwater Lake in Oceana County and the Lincoln River in Mason County. 

Local Concern: European frog-bit can form dense mats on the surface of slow-moving waters like bayous, backwaters and wetlands.  Mats of European frog-bit can impede boat traffic and alter food and habitat for ducks and fish.  Prolific growth of aquatic invasive plants like European frog-bit can also reduce oxygen and light in the water column. 

Means of Introduction or Spread: European frog-bit is often introduced to new water bodies when plants or turions are transported on boats, trailers and recreational gear. Once established, drifting mats of vegetation can spread to connected waters.

High Risk Pathways: boating, hunting.

Treatment: Manual removal in the spring or early summer can be effective for small populations but requires repeated efforts to maintain control. Certain chemical treatments have also been used to reduce European frog-bit. Information on chemical treatments can be found in Michigan's Status and Strategy for European Frog-bit Management.

More Information:

European Frog-bit Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF

European Frog-bit Poster for Waterfowl Hunters - Printable PDF

European Frog-bit Identification and Reporting - Downloadable PowerPoint presentation

Status and Strategy for European Frog-bit Management - Printable PDF. This document provides in-depth information about European frog-bit in Michigan including identification, distribution, management and control options.

MDARD Weed Risk Assessment for European Frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) - Printable PDF. This document evaluates the invasive potential of the plant species using information based on establishment, spread and potential to cause harm.