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Fen Pondweed

Potamogeton coloratus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Potamogetonaceae (Pondweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre long
Ditches, fens, gardens, ponds, water, wetland.

Green, 4 petals
Green flower spikes, up to 4.5cm long. The individual flowers are tiny.
Green fruits, smaller than those of the similar looking Bog Pondweed (Potamogeton polygonifolius) and Broad-leaved Pondweed (Potamogeton natans).
A perennial aquatic plant with broad, oval, floating, translucent, prominent net-veined leaves. The submerged leaves are narrow and elliptical, up to 18cm long. The leaves are usually red.
Other Names:
Red-stemmed Pondweed.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Potamogeton coloratus, also known as red-stemmed 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 are long, thin and typically float on the water's surface, they are lanceolate in shape, with smooth edges. The stems are red or reddish-brown in color and long, thin and anchored to the bottom by rhizomes. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, and arranged in spikes at the top of the stem. They typically bloom in late spring to early summer. It is an important food source for waterfowl and aquatic animals, and it also provides cover and habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. It's considered a good oxygenator for the aquatic ecosystem and it's also used as an ornamental plant in water gardens and ponds.


Fen Pondweed, also known as Potamogeton coloratus, is a perennial aquatic plant that is found in shallow freshwater habitats such as ponds, lakes, and marshes. It belongs to the family Potamogetonaceae, and is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The plant has a unique appearance with slender stems that can grow up to 1 meter in length, and it is characterized by its dark green leaves that are ovate or oblong in shape.

Fen Pondweed is an important aquatic plant in freshwater ecosystems, providing a source of food and shelter for aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates. The plant also plays a vital role in maintaining water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water, and by providing oxygen through photosynthesis. In addition, Fen Pondweed serves as an indicator of the health of freshwater ecosystems, as it is sensitive to changes in water quality and habitat conditions.

One of the key features of Fen Pondweed is its ability to tolerate low oxygen levels in the water. This adaptation allows the plant to grow in wetland habitats where oxygen levels may fluctuate due to changes in water levels or other environmental factors. Fen Pondweed also has a high tolerance for salinity, which allows it to grow in brackish water environments such as estuaries and salt marshes.

Fen Pondweed is an important plant for conservation efforts, as it is considered a threatened species in many parts of its native range due to habitat loss and degradation. Restoration efforts to protect and conserve Fen Pondweed and other aquatic plants are critical for maintaining healthy freshwater ecosystems and promoting biodiversity.

Fen Pondweed is a fascinating plant with several unique characteristics that make it well-adapted to its aquatic environment. One of its key features is its ability to produce vegetative reproduction through the formation of rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally, producing new shoots and roots as they spread. This adaptation allows Fen Pondweed to form dense colonies, providing habitat and food for a variety of aquatic organisms.

Fen Pondweed is also an important plant for recreational activities such as fishing and boating, as it provides cover and food for fish and other aquatic organisms. However, excessive growth of Fen Pondweed can also lead to problems such as clogging of waterways and the reduction of oxygen levels, which can have negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

Management of Fen Pondweed is an important aspect of maintaining healthy freshwater ecosystems. Control measures such as mechanical harvesting, chemical treatments, and biological control methods can be used to manage excessive growth of Fen Pondweed while minimizing the negative impacts on other aquatic organisms. Restoration efforts, such as the planting of native aquatic plants and the reduction of nutrient inputs, can also help to improve the health of freshwater ecosystems and promote the growth of Fen Pondweed and other important aquatic plants.

In addition to its ecological and recreational benefits, Fen Pondweed also has medicinal properties. The plant contains compounds that have been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments such as fever, cough, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Fen Pondweed also plays an important role in carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling. As a photosynthetic plant, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converts it into organic matter, which is stored in the plant tissues or released into the sediment. This process helps to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Furthermore, Fen Pondweed also plays an important role in nutrient cycling by absorbing excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the water column. These nutrients can be a limiting factor for the growth of aquatic plants, and excessive amounts can lead to eutrophication, which can result in harmful algal blooms and oxygen depletion. By absorbing excess nutrients, Fen Pondweed helps to reduce the negative impacts of eutrophication and promotes the growth of other aquatic plants.

Fen Pondweed is also a valuable indicator species for assessing the health of aquatic ecosystems. Changes in water quality and habitat conditions can affect the growth and distribution of Fen Pondweed, and monitoring changes in its abundance and distribution can provide valuable information on the health and sustainability of freshwater ecosystems.

Overall, Fen Pondweed is an important aquatic plant with many ecological, recreational, medicinal, and economic benefits. Its unique adaptations to low oxygen levels and salinity, vegetative reproduction, and ability to absorb excess nutrients make it a vital component of freshwater ecosystems. Conservation and management efforts to protect and restore Fen Pondweed and other aquatic plants are critical for maintaining the health and sustainability of freshwater ecosystems and promoting biodiversity.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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