Egeria densa

Common Name(s)



Egeria densa Planchon



Brief Description

Submerged, bottom-rooted perennial plant in the oxygenweed group. It is a large leafy plant, the leaves being 10 to 30 mm long and 2 to 5 mm wide with minutely serrated margins, which occur in whorls of four to five. Egeria produces flowers (male only), which are conspicuous during the summer months floating on the water surface. Flowers are to 20 mm across, with 3 white petals.

Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Herbs


Widely naturalised in North Island and Marlborough, few sites elsewhere in South Island.


Submerged in moderate flowing to still water bodies, usually in moderately to highly enriched water bodies. Prefers sandy or silty sediments.


Submerged, bottom-rooting perennial, growing to 5 m. Stems slender, brittle, much-branched, buoyant, 3 mm diam. Leaves in whorls of 4-6 (occ 3 near base), linear, 15-30 x 4 mm, dark green. Flowers on surface, 3 petaled, 20 mm diam, white with 9 yellow stamens, Nov-Jan. Only male plants found in NZ, no seed set.

Similar Taxa

Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) and lagarosiphon (Lagarosiphon major). Egeria can be differentiated from the others by its larger size and conspicuous white flowers. Canadian pondweed almost always has leaves arranged in whorls of three. Lagarosiphon has leaves that curl downwards and are not arranged in whorls.


Spring/summer. When the plants flowers can reach the sruface of the water.

Flower Colours



Only male plants in NZ.

Year Naturalised



South America, naturalised throughout tropical and temperate areas of world.

Reason for Introduction

Ornamental aquarium plant

Control Techniques

Plants can be physically removed from the lake or waterway using SCUBA or snorkel divers for small scale infestations, or using mechanical diggers. Although the potential for contamination of other sites by mechanical equipment is a signficant concern. There are a number of manipulations to the habitat that in theory can control egeria (e.g., shading, bottom lining, water drawdown) but there are significant limits to their practical application, rendering them site (or waterbody) specific. The only chemical product registered for aquatic use in New Zealand that is efficacious on egeria is diquat. Diquat is a relatively fast acting contact herbicide, which interrupts the electron transport system in plant photosynthesis and causes the destruction of cell membranes and desiccation. At present the introduced grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) are the only biocontrol agent available to manage egeria. Grass carp have been successfully used for the eradication of egeria from Parkinson’s Lake.

Life Cycle and Dispersal

Egeria propagates from stem fragments containing lateral buds that give rise to new plants. Egeria does not produce seed in New Zealand, with only male flowering plants being present.


The plant is slightly tolerant to shade and frost, intolerant to drought and highly tolerant to poor drainage. Physical damage and grazing will result in regrowth from buried stem apicies and fragments.


Factsheet 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.

Popay et al (2010).  An illustrated guide to common weeds of New Zealand, third edition.  NZ Plant Protection Society Inc, 416pp.

Kasselmann C (2003).  Aquarium plants. Krieger Publishing company, Florida, 518pp.;  WSDE (2001).  An aquatic plant identification manual for Washington's freshwater plants.  Washington State Department of Ecology, 195pp.

Aston, H (1977).  Aquatic plants of Australia. Melbourne University Press, 367PP.

Hofstra D, P Champion, (2006). Management options assessment for Egeria densa.  NIWA client Report HAM2006-160.

Hofstra D, P Champion, (2006).  Organism Consequence Assessment Egeria densa.  NIWA Client Report: HAM2006-058g. 

This page last updated on 21 Aug 2013