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Perfoliate Pondweed

Potamogeton perfoliatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Potamogetonaceae (Pondweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 metres long

Green, 4 petals
The flower is a long-stalked, erect spike. The 4 petals are actually sepals and it has no petals.
4-parted, olive green nutlets, 4mm in diameter.
This is the only pondweed in the British Isles which has got leaves which obviously clasp the stems. The leaves are broadly oval but sometimes narrower. They are green and untoothed. This species of pondweed is often found in deeper water than most pondweeds. Perennial.
Other Names:
Claspingleaf Pondweed, Redhead Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Potamogeton perfoliatus, also known as Perfoliate Pondweed, is a perennial aquatic plant that is native to North America. It is commonly found in freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. The leaves of the plant are large, glossy and perfoliate, meaning they appear to wrap around the stem. The leaves are arranged in a whorled pattern around the stem, the leaf stems are long and thin. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, and arranged in spikes at the top of the stem. The plant typically grows submerged, but the flowers and fruits can be found floating on the surface of the water. It is an important food source for waterfowl and aquatic animals, and it also provides cover and habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.


Perfoliate pondweed, Potamogeton perfoliatus, is an aquatic plant found in many freshwater bodies worldwide. It is commonly known for its distinctive appearance, with the leaves of the plant wrapping around the stem in a circular fashion. In this blog, we will delve deeper into the biology, ecology, and significance of this fascinating aquatic plant.


Perfoliate pondweed is a perennial plant, meaning that it lives for more than one year. It has thin, branching stems that can grow up to 3 meters in length. The leaves are thin and oval, and they are attached to the stem by a petiole. The leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern around the stem, and they have small notches at their base, which allows them to wrap around the stem. The flowers of the plant are small and green, and they are produced on spikes that emerge from the water surface.


Perfoliate pondweed is typically found in still or slow-moving water, such as lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. It prefers water that is rich in nutrients and has a pH range of 6.5-8.5. The plant can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and can grow in water that is up to 6 meters deep. The plant is adapted to living in aquatic environments, and it has a number of adaptations that allow it to survive and thrive in these environments. For example, the leaves of the plant are thin and flexible, which allows them to move with the water currents, and the plant can reproduce both sexually and asexually, which allows it to quickly colonize new areas of water.


Perfoliate pondweed is an important component of freshwater ecosystems, as it provides habitat and food for a wide range of aquatic organisms. The plant provides cover for small fish and invertebrates, which can hide from predators among the leaves. The plant also provides food for a number of aquatic herbivores, including ducks, geese, and muskrats. In addition, the plant plays a role in nutrient cycling in freshwater ecosystems, as it takes up nutrients from the water and incorporates them into its tissues, which are then consumed by other organisms.

However, perfoliate pondweed can also have negative impacts on freshwater ecosystems under certain circumstances. For example, the plant can form dense mats that block out light and reduce the amount of oxygen in the water, which can lead to the death of other aquatic plants and animals. The plant can also interfere with recreational activities, such as swimming and boating, by forming dense mats that impede movement through the water.

In conclusion, perfoliate pondweed is a fascinating aquatic plant that plays an important role in freshwater ecosystems. While it can have negative impacts under certain circumstances, it is generally a valuable component of these ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a wide range of organisms, and contributing to nutrient cycling. Further research is needed to fully understand the ecology and significance of this important plant.

More Information

Perfoliate pondweed is an important plant for aquatic restoration projects. Due to its ability to absorb nutrients from the water, it is often used in bioremediation efforts to improve water quality in polluted bodies of water. The plant can also be used in aquaculture systems to improve water quality and provide habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.

One interesting aspect of perfoliate pondweed is its ability to respond to changes in environmental conditions. For example, the plant can alter its growth rate and reproductive strategy in response to changes in nutrient availability, water depth, and temperature. This flexibility allows the plant to adapt to changing environmental conditions, which may be particularly important in the face of climate change.

Another interesting aspect of perfoliate pondweed is its potential medicinal properties. The plant contains a number of bioactive compounds, including alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins, which have been shown to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. While more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal potential of perfoliate pondweed, these compounds may hold promise for the development of new pharmaceuticals and natural health products.

Perfoliate pondweed also has cultural significance in some regions. For example, in some indigenous cultures, the plant is used for medicinal purposes, such as treating skin irritations and digestive disorders. The plant is also used in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving.

Additionally, perfoliate pondweed has been studied for its potential as a biofuel. The plant contains high levels of lipids, which can be converted into biodiesel. While the feasibility of using perfoliate pondweed as a biofuel source is still being studied, it may hold promise as a renewable energy source that can be sustainably produced in aquatic environments.

However, as with many aquatic plants, perfoliate pondweed is susceptible to invasive species that can outcompete and displace native populations. In some regions, the introduction of invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, has led to the decline of perfoliate pondweed populations. As a result, efforts are underway to manage and control invasive species and restore native perfoliate pondweed populations.

Overall, perfoliate pondweed is a complex and multi-faceted plant that plays an important role in freshwater ecosystems and human societies. Its ecological, environmental, cultural, and medicinal significance makes it a valuable resource that we must continue to study and understand in order to protect and sustainably utilize its many benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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