Senegal tea

Native to South America, Senegal tea is an aquatic perennial introduced to Australia as an aquarium plant. In the wild, it invades and degrades natural wetlands. The first infestations of Senegal tea were found in New South Wales and Tasmania.

Senegal tea is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Gymnocoronis spilanthoides


  • Aquatic perennial that grows over water surface, producing runners and floating stems up to 2.5m long.
  • On land, grows as rounded bush.
  • Leaves are shiny, dark green, 5-20cm long, in opposite pairs.
  • Stems are hollow between nodes, allowing plant to float.
  • Young stems are light green with dark green blotches.
  • Young stems are round, becoming 6-sided as plant grows.
  • Flowers are white, pompom-like, 15-20mm in diameter.
  • Seeds are yellow-brown, ribbed.


  • Favours shallow and slow-moving water.
  • Can grow over water surface or in wet, marshy soils.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Found along creekbanks in Redland Shire (outskirts of Brisbane) in 1995.
  • Found in South East Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Seeds germinate in spring and, if conditions are right, in summer.
  • Flowering starts in late spring to early summer.
  • Becomes dormant when temperatures drop.

Affected animals

Wetland birds



  • Forms floating mats, blocking irrigation ditches, shallow dams and waterways.
  • Invades and degrades natural wetlands.

How it is spread

  • Spread through cultivation and sale as an aquarium or ornamental water plant, and through dumping of aquarium contents into waterways.
  • Spread by broken stem, leaf fragments and seed.
  • Seeds spread by water, and in soil on vehicle tyres and animals' feet.


If you find an infestation of Senegal tea, please contact Biosecurity Queensland. Do not attempt to control this weed, as it needs to be positively identified so all occurrences can be recorded before control.

Mechanical control

  • Place all removed plant material in sealed plastic bag, leave in sunlight to decompose, then dispose of at council-approved landfill tip. Alternatively, leave material in sun to dry, then burn.
  • Do not leave broken plant pieces in growth area.

Herbicide control

  • Biosecurity Queensland is seeking a minor use permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for herbicides suitable for use.

See the Senegal tea fact sheet (PDF, 190KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No know biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Senegal tea is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information