Gymnocoronis spilanthoides

Senegal tea

Family: Asteraceae

Origin: Mexico, South America

Senegal tea with white flowers.
From South America this aquatic herb can grow up to 1.5m tall. Stems are hollow to allow them to float as well as aid in holding oxygen.
Photo credit: Greg Hoskins

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Progressive containment, council delivered

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Emergent, aquatic, perennial herb < 1.5 m tall. Stems are hollow when mature, buoyant and form dense floating mats. Leaves are < 20 x 5 cm. Flowerheads are white, clover-like and borne in December – May. Seeds ripen in summer – autumn.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Senegal tea. As Senegal tea is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Senegal tea within the Auckland region.

Auckland Council will manage Senegal tea at all sites where it is known to occur.

If you see Senegal tea anywhere in the Auckland region, please report it to Auckland Council at


Damp soils, still or slow-moving water body margins.


Sets seed. Vegetative spread from stem fragments. Seed and stem fragments dispersed by water movement. Human-mediated dispersal through contamination of machinery and deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Forms floating mats, blocking streams and drainage tunnels, altering water flow dynamics and exacerbating flooding. Potential to replace short-stature herbaceous wetland plant communities. May impact mauri of wai māori.


Site management - recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species. Please report to Auckland Council.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Senegal tea stem.
Senegal Team can form dense floating mats that can clog ponds and waterways. It grows amongst native wetland plants making it a challenge to control.
Photo credit: Greg Hoskins
Close up of Senegal tea flowers.
If you see this you must report it to the Auckland Council. This plant is highly invasive and competent contractors must be used to remove the plants.
Photo credit: Greg Hoskins