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Sharp-leaved Pondweed

Potamogeton acutifolius

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Potamogetonaceae (Pondweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres long
Ditches, gardens, marshes, water, wetland.

Green, 4 petals
A short, green flower spike.
Small, globular fruits.
An aquatic Pondweed with strap-like leaves and flattened stems. It can be differentiated from other British Pondweeds with strap-shaped leaves by its unstalked leaves and its 3 main veins. It has more pointed leaves and is the rarest of our Pondweed species with strap-shaped leaves. It is usually found growing in ditches and marshes in south-east England.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Potamogeton acutifolius, also known as sharp-leaved 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 and a pointed tip. 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.


Sharp-leaved pondweed, also known as Potamogeton acutifolius, is an aquatic plant species that belongs to the family Potamogetonaceae. This plant is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, and can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats such as lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams.

The leaves of the sharp-leaved pondweed are narrow and pointed, hence the name "acutifolius," which means "sharp-leaved" in Latin. The leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern along the stem, and can grow up to 10 cm long. The stems of the plant are flexible and can grow up to 1.5 meters long. The plant also produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are usually found near the base of the plant.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the sharp-leaved pondweed is its ability to grow in a variety of water depths, from shallow water to depths of up to 5 meters. This makes it an important plant species in aquatic ecosystems, as it provides shelter and food for a variety of aquatic organisms such as fish, insects, and other invertebrates.

Sharp-leaved pondweed is also an important plant species for water quality management. It is a submerged aquatic plant that absorbs nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the water, which helps to reduce the amount of nutrients available for algae growth. This can help to prevent harmful algal blooms and improve water clarity. Additionally, the plant also provides oxygen to the water through photosynthesis, which is essential for the survival of aquatic organisms.

Despite its ecological importance, sharp-leaved pondweed can also be a nuisance in some aquatic systems. Invasive populations of this plant species can outcompete native aquatic plants and disrupt the balance of the ecosystem. In some cases, sharp-leaved pondweed can also interfere with recreational activities such as boating and swimming.

Sharp-leaved pondweed is a perennial plant that can reproduce vegetatively through the growth of new plants from rhizomes, or sexually through the production of seeds. The plant usually flowers between June and September, and the small, greenish flowers are wind-pollinated. After pollination, the flowers produce small, black, oval-shaped seeds that can float on the water surface and be dispersed by water currents.

Sharp-leaved pondweed is also used in traditional medicine in some cultures. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments such as coughs, sore throats, and digestive problems. However, it is important to note that the use of this plant for medicinal purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as some parts of the plant can be toxic if consumed in large quantities.

In terms of conservation, sharp-leaved pondweed is not considered a threatened species. However, as with any plant species, habitat destruction and pollution can pose a threat to its survival. Efforts to protect and restore aquatic habitats can help to ensure the survival of this important plant species.

Sharp-leaved pondweed can be used in aquascaping, which is the art of designing and arranging aquatic plants, rocks, and other materials in an aquarium. Its narrow leaves and flexible stems make it a popular plant species for creating a natural and visually appealing aquascape.

In addition, sharp-leaved pondweed is also used in scientific research. Its ability to grow in a variety of water depths, absorb nutrients, and provide oxygen to the water make it an important plant species for studying aquatic ecosystems and the effects of environmental stressors on these systems.

One interesting fact about sharp-leaved pondweed is that it has been used as a bioindicator of water quality in some studies. Bioindicators are organisms that can be used to monitor environmental conditions and detect changes in the ecosystem. Sharp-leaved pondweed can be used as a bioindicator because it is sensitive to changes in water quality, such as changes in nutrient levels and pollution. Monitoring the growth and health of sharp-leaved pondweed populations can provide insights into the health of aquatic ecosystems and help to identify potential environmental problems.

Another interesting fact about sharp-leaved pondweed is that it has been used in some cultures as a food source. In Japan, the young shoots and leaves of the plant are harvested and eaten as a vegetable. The plant is also used as a traditional medicine in some cultures, where it is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Sharp-leaved pondweed is also an important species for recreational fishing. The plant provides important habitat and food for fish and other aquatic organisms, and is often targeted by anglers as a prime fishing spot.

Overall, sharp-leaved pondweed is a fascinating plant species with a variety of uses and ecological roles. Its ability to serve as a bioindicator of water quality, provide food and habitat for aquatic organisms, and be used in traditional medicine and cuisine highlights the importance of this plant species in both natural and human environments.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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