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Toothcup (Rotala ramosior)

Life history

Species overview

Toothcup (Rotala ramosior), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in wet areas, such as the shores of rivers and lakes. Blooming occurs from June through October. The optimal identification period for this species is June through October.

Synonyms: Rotala catholica, R. dentifera, R. ramosior var. interior, R. ramosior var typica


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Stems erect or drooping and often reddish. Rotala ramosior is the only species of this genus in Wisconsin, but can be distinguished from other genera in the family Lythraceae by having single, small flowers sitting in the axils.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers are sessile and have a pair of small, opposite bracts. Three to six white, pink or red petals inside a cup-like hypanthium, 1 to 2 mm wide. The petals can fall off very easily.
  • Fruit characteristics: Septicidal capsule, 3 to 5 mm in length.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite or whorled and sessile, tapering at the base, margins entire, 1 to 3 cm long by 1 cm wide.


  • Blooming phenology: June through October
  • Fruiting phenology:
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is June through October


  • Growth form: Forb-herb
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Annual
  • Comments:

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Toothcup (Rotala ramosior). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Rotala ramosior in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in wet areas, such as the shores of rivers and lakes.
  • Soils: wet, muddy soils

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Toothcup. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Toothcup. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Toothcup Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Toothcup Photo.

Photo © Jason J. Husveth.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition