Open the Advanced Search

Red Pondweed

Potamogeton alpinus

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

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

Green, 4 petals
Green flower spikes.
Globular fruit.
Reddish, narrowly lanceolate, unstalked, net-veined leaves (between 7 and 18cm long). The stems are not branched. Most of the leaves are submerged but there are some floating leaves. Red Pondweed avoids growing in limy water. Perennial.
Other Names:
Alpine Pondweed, Northern Pondweed, Reddish Pondweed.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Potamogeton alpinus, also known as Alpine Pondweed, is a perennial aquatic plant that is native to cold and cool temperate regions of Europe and Asia. It is commonly found in freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams, it can tolerate temperatures below freezing. 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.


Red pondweed, scientifically known as Potamogeton alpinus, is an aquatic plant species found in many parts of the world. This plant is often considered a nuisance by many lake and pond owners, but it plays a vital role in the aquatic ecosystem by providing food and shelter for various aquatic organisms.

Description and Habitat

Red pondweed is a perennial herb that grows entirely submerged in freshwater lakes and ponds. It has long, narrow leaves that can grow up to 5cm in length and 5mm in width. The leaves are dark green and translucent with reddish-brown veins. The stem of this plant is thin and can grow up to 100cm in length.

Red pondweed can be found in both still and slow-moving water bodies, such as ponds, lakes, and streams. It prefers cold, clear water with a pH range of 6-9. This plant can grow in water depths ranging from 0.3m to 10m and can tolerate low light conditions.

Ecological Importance

Red pondweed is an essential part of the aquatic ecosystem. It provides food and shelter for various aquatic organisms such as insects, fish, and waterfowl. The plant's leaves and stems are a source of food for herbivorous fish, including common carp, roach, and tench.

The dense vegetation of red pondweed also provides shelter for various invertebrates, such as snails and freshwater shrimp. These organisms play a vital role in the food chain and provide food for larger predators such as fish and birds.

Furthermore, red pondweed is a valuable plant for water quality management. It helps to stabilize shorelines and reduce erosion by absorbing excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are often found in high concentrations in agricultural runoff and can cause algal blooms, which can be harmful to aquatic organisms.

Control and Management

While red pondweed is a valuable plant, it can also be a nuisance to lake and pond owners. Excessive growth of red pondweed can clog waterways, limit recreation activities, and reduce property values.

To control the growth of red pondweed, several management techniques can be employed. Physical removal by hand or machine is one option, but it is labor-intensive and often only provides temporary relief. Herbicides are another option, but their use must be carefully monitored to avoid harming other aquatic organisms.

Prevention is also an important part of red pondweed management. Limiting the introduction of nutrient-rich runoff into water bodies can help reduce the growth of red pondweed and other aquatic weeds.

Red pondweed, Potamogeton alpinus, is an important aquatic plant that provides food and shelter for various aquatic organisms. While it can be a nuisance to lake and pond owners, it plays a vital role in the aquatic ecosystem and can be managed through various control techniques. Proper management of red pondweed can help maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and provide valuable recreational opportunities for humans.

More Information

Red pondweed is not only an important plant for the aquatic ecosystem, but it also has some medicinal properties. It is known to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can help in the treatment of various ailments. Some traditional medicinal practices use red pondweed to treat respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin conditions.

The plant also has industrial applications. The cellulose content of the plant can be used for the production of paper, textiles, and other materials. The plant's tannin content can be used for tanning leather, while its starch content can be used for the production of adhesives.

Red pondweed is also an indicator species for water quality. Its presence or absence can indicate the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. If red pondweed is thriving in a water body, it suggests that the water quality is good. However, if it is absent or has a limited presence, it could indicate that the water quality is poor and needs attention.

Red pondweed is a popular plant in the aquarium trade due to its attractive appearance and ease of care. It is often used in aquascapes to create a natural and lush underwater environment for fish and other aquatic creatures. Its long, slender leaves and reddish-brown veins provide an eye-catching contrast to other plants in the aquarium.

Moreover, red pondweed is an excellent plant for phytoremediation. Phytoremediation is the process of using plants to remove contaminants from soil or water. Red pondweed can absorb heavy metals and other pollutants from water bodies, which makes it useful in the treatment of contaminated waters.

Finally, red pondweed is an important plant for scientific research. It has been extensively studied in various fields such as ecology, evolutionary biology, and biogeography. Researchers use red pondweed to understand the plant's genetic makeup, evolutionary history, and ecological relationships with other species in the ecosystem. The plant's unique characteristics make it an excellent model organism for various studies.

In conclusion, red pondweed is a versatile plant with numerous ecological, industrial, and medicinal applications. It plays a vital role in maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems and has significant value in many industries. Its ease of care and attractive appearance make it a popular choice in the aquarium trade. Overall, red pondweed is a valuable plant that deserves more attention and research in the future.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map