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Small Pondweed

Potamogeton berchtoldii

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:
60 centimetres long
Ditches, gardens, ponds, water.

Green, 4 petals
A small, green flower spike.
Small, globe-shaped fruit.
A bushy, aquatic plant with thread-like leaves and slightly flattened stems. The leaves are variable in colour ranging from pale to dark green. They are 3-veined and blunt-tipped. 1 or 2mm wide. The leaves have small, open stipules are their bases. Small Pondweed does not like limy water.
Other Names:
Berchtold's Pondweed, Slender Pondweed.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Potamogeton berchtoldii, also known as Berchtold's 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 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.


Small Pondweed, also known by its scientific name Potamogeton berchtoldii, is a common aquatic plant that can be found in shallow ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers throughout much of the world. It is a member of the Potamogetonaceae family and is known for its small size and unique features that make it an important part of many aquatic ecosystems.

One of the most distinctive features of Small Pondweed is its small size. It typically grows to be only a few inches tall, making it one of the smallest aquatic plants found in many water bodies. Despite its small size, it plays an important role in many aquatic ecosystems by providing shelter and food for a variety of aquatic animals.

Another important feature of Small Pondweed is its ability to produce dense mats of vegetation. These mats can be important for stabilizing the sediment at the bottom of a water body and preventing erosion. They can also help to reduce water turbulence and improve water quality by trapping sediment and pollutants.

Small Pondweed is also known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It can grow in both shallow and deep water and can tolerate both high and low levels of nutrients. It is also able to grow in a variety of substrates, including sand, gravel, and mud.

One of the most important ecological roles of Small Pondweed is its ability to provide food and shelter for a variety of aquatic animals. The dense mats of vegetation produced by Small Pondweed provide a habitat for small invertebrates like snails and worms, which are an important food source for many fish species. Small Pondweed also provides a refuge for young fish and other aquatic animals, helping to increase their chances of survival.

Small Pondweed has also been used for medicinal purposes in traditional herbal medicine. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin conditions. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of Small Pondweed as a medicinal herb.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, Small Pondweed also has practical applications in industries such as agriculture and wastewater treatment. It has been shown to be effective at removing nutrients and pollutants from water, making it a potentially useful tool for improving water quality and reducing the environmental impact of agricultural and industrial activities.

Despite its many benefits, Small Pondweed can also be a nuisance in some water bodies, where it can grow uncontrollably and cause problems such as reduced water flow and oxygen depletion. In such cases, efforts may be made to control its growth through methods such as physical removal, herbicide application, or the introduction of natural predators.

Small Pondweed has also been used in the aquarium trade as a decorative plant for small aquariums. Its small size and unique appearance make it a popular choice for aquarists who want to add variety and visual interest to their tanks.

In terms of reproduction, Small Pondweed is a dioecious species, meaning that individual plants are either male or female. It reproduces primarily through vegetative propagation, with new plants growing from fragments of the parent plant. However, it can also reproduce sexually through the production of seeds.

Small Pondweed is also an important indicator species for assessing the health of aquatic ecosystems. Its presence or absence can provide valuable information about the water quality, nutrient levels, and overall ecological health of a water body.

Furthermore, Small Pondweed has been found to have potential applications in the field of phytoremediation. This is a process that uses plants to remove pollutants from contaminated soil or water. Small Pondweed has been shown to be effective at removing heavy metals such as copper and zinc from contaminated water, making it a potential candidate for use in wastewater treatment and environmental remediation projects.

Another interesting aspect of Small Pondweed is its role in nutrient cycling within aquatic ecosystems. It is an important contributor to the cycling of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are essential for the growth of aquatic plants and algae. By absorbing these nutrients, Small Pondweed helps to regulate their availability and prevent excessive growth of algae and other unwanted species.

Finally, it is worth noting that Small Pondweed is just one of many important aquatic plants that contribute to the health and balance of aquatic ecosystems. By understanding the ecological roles and significance of species like Small Pondweed, we can better appreciate the complexity and diversity of these ecosystems, and work to protect and conserve them for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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