Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia)




Moneywort is a low-growing herb with smooth stems that grow to 2 feet (61 cm) long, have a 0.05-0.1 inch (1.2-2.5 mm) diameter, and branch frequently to form a mat-like growth. The leaves are simple, short-petioled, and opposite. The broadly oval leaves, which are obtuse at both ends, resemble small coins and give the plant its name. The 0.6-1 inch (17-25 mm) solitary flowers are wheel-shaped, 5-petaled, and are found in the leaf axils on a stalk as long as the leaves. The yellow flowers growing from the leaf bases are spotted with small dark red dots and bloom June to August. Moneywort should be accurately identified before attempting any control measures. If identification of the species is in doubt, the plant's identity should be confirmed by a knowledgeable individual and/or by consulting appropriate books.

This plant is a native of Great Britain and much of Europe. It was first introduced as an ornamental. Although initially only widespread in the northeastern U. S. from Georgia to Maine, it now can be found into Canada, throughout the north-central states, and along the west coast. It is distributed throughout Illinois.

Moneywort is most abundant in wet meadows, swamps, disturbed floodplain forests, and stream borders. It prefers moist, rich, shaded soils and is likely to be found in lawns, pastures, and along ditches and streams.

Life History
This rapidly growing perennial reproduces by seed as well as through a creeping growth habit of the stems. The stem creeps along the ground, rooting at each node when it gets the opportunity. Fruit is a globose capsule that opens longitudinally to expose the many seeds inside. Moneywort remains green throughout most of the year in Illinois.

Effects Upon Natural Areas
Moneywort invades floodplain forests, wet and mesic prairies, marshes, and swamps throughout the state. The plant tends to cover the ground with a mat of low-growing vegetation, excluding other herbaceous vegetation. Its ability to root at nodes enables it to cover large areas.




Moneywort does not appear to be a problem in high-quality communities. In low wetland woods where it is invading, one possible means of control is by prescribed burning in spring or fall when moneywort is green but most native vegetation is dormant. The plant can be hand pulled where practical. All stems and stem fragments should be removed from the area to prevent the stems from rooting again in the soil.

Same as above for high-quality natural communities. In low-quality buffer areas, prolonged submergence will kill moneywort. At restoration sites, moneywort can be controlled by establishing native grasses to shade it out. Suggested grasses include Cinna arundinacea and Elymus virginicus. Seeding of native grasses should be used only at restoration sites and not at natural areas. Herbicides such as Roundup or Rodeo may be effective control measures, but they have not been tested by Illinois natural area managers.




Mowing is not effective since moneywort adheres closely to the ground due to its many rooting nodes.
More research is needed concerning the effectiveness of herbicides. 
No biological controls that are feasible in natural areas are known.




Durant, M. 1976. A Dictionary of North American wildflowers. Dodd, Mead, and Co., New York. 226 pp.

Fermanian, T. W., R. Randell, M. C. Shurtleff. 1987. Controlling turfgrass pests. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 278 pp.

Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany, eighth edition. American Book Co., New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, H. A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Vol. 3. T he New York Botanical Garden, New York. 595 pp.

Jaques, H. E. and R. E. Wilkinson. 1979. How to know the weeds, third edition. William C. Brown Co. Publishers, Dubuque, IA. 323 pp.

Mohlenbrock, R. H. 1986. Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 507 pp.

Peterson, R. T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field guide to wildflowers of northeastern and north-central North America. Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 420 pp.




Apfelbaum, Steve. 1988. Applied Ecological Services, Juda, Wisconsin.

Schwegman, John E. 1988. Division of Natural Heritage, Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield, Illinois.

Stritch, Larry. 1988. Division of Natural Heritage, Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield, Illinois.



Written for the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission by:
Jill Kennay and George Fell
Natural Land Institute
320 South Third Street 
Rockford, Illinois 61108

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 South Oak Street, MC 652
Champaign, IL 61820

Terms of use. Email the Web Administrator with questions or comments.

© 2020 University of Illinois Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.
For permissions information, contact the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Staff Intranet