Potamogeton: river dweller
Potamogeton crispus L.
Submerged aquatic plant that has green to red/brown leaves arranged alternately on stems. the leaves are ca 10mm in width and up to 80 mm long with distinct wavy edges (hence the name 'crispus'). Centre veins of the leaves are normally reddish.
Vascular - Exotic
Widely naturalised throughout New Zealand, rare in West Coast Region
Moderately fast flowing to still water bodies.
Entirely submerged, bottom-rooting, normally perennial. Slender rhizomes and roots. P. crispus has long branched stems, that feels slightly flattened (as opposed to round or cylindrical), with submerged leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem. The leaves are green to reddish brown, slightly translucent, about 10mm in width, and up to 80mm long. Leaf margins are markedly wavy and crimped, with fine teeth near the tip. Centre veins of the leaves are normally reddish. The inflorescence spike has few flowers. Flowers small, green, on spikes up to 1 cm long, 4 flat dark seeds. The fruit (achenes) are large (4mm) and thick, with a curved beak and a toothed (rounded toothed) dorsal keel. Turions or winter buds of hard scales formed by shortened, thickened leaves with broad and strongly toothed bases.
Potamogeton ochreatus and P. cheesemanii. P. ochreatus has a straight edged leaf and a blunt leaf tip, whereas curled pondweed has a rounded leaf tip with crimped edges. It can be distinguished from P. cheesemanii by the submerged leaves, which are narrower and much more crimped in curled pondweed.
November, December, January
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
Native to Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Reason for Introduction
Ornamental pond and aquarium plant
Life Cycle and Dispersal
Spread by seeds, stem fragments, rhizomes, or turions. Birds disperse seed, fragments, rhizomes and turions dispersed by contaminated machinery and water movement.
Tolerates brackish, flowing or still water, and grows to 10 m depth.
Prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA)
References and further reading
Champion et al (2012). Freshwater Pests of New Zealand. NIWA publication. http://www.niwa.co.nz/freshwater-and-estuaries/management-tools/identification-guides-and-fact-sheets/freshwater-pest-species.
Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989). Wetland plants in New Zealand. DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.
Coffey BT, Clayton JS (1988). New Zealand water plants: a guide to plants found in New Zealand freshwaters. Ruakura Agricultural Cente. 65pp.
Aston, H (1977). Aquatic plants of Australia. Melbourne University Press, 367pp.
This page last updated on 20 Jun 2013