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Subularia aquatica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Bogs, marshes, ponds, water.

White, 4 petals
Flowers have 4 narrow, white petals. 2 or 3mm wide.
Tiny, egg-shaped, inflated pods.
An annual or biennial aquatic plant which is almost always completely submerged. The pale green leaves appear in tufts and are cylindrical, linear and sharp-pointed. This plant looks similar to Shoreweed (Littorella uniflora) but the leaves are shorter and more slender than those of Shoreweed. Both plants are frequently seen growing together.
Other Names:
American Waterawlwort, Water Awlwort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Subularia aquatica, also known as waterwort or needlewort, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It belongs to the carrot family and is known for its small, white flowers and narrow, grass-like leaves. Subularia aquatica is a low-growing plant that is often found in wetland or aquatic areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Subularia aquatica prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and slugs. Subularia aquatica is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Awlwort, also known as Subularia aquatica, is a small aquatic plant that is commonly found in cold, clear streams and ponds in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a member of the family Aponogetonaceae, which includes other aquatic plants such as the African water lily.

One of the key characteristics of Awlwort is its long, narrow leaves that resemble awls or needles. These leaves are typically about 2-3 inches long and are arranged in a rosette pattern at the base of the plant. The leaves are bright green in color and are slightly translucent, which allows light to penetrate deep into the water.

Awlwort also produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are located on a stalk that rises above the water's surface. These flowers are typically white or pale pink in color and are pollinated by insects. The plant reproduces through the production of small, round seeds that are dispersed by water.

Awlwort is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. It prefers cold, clear water with a pH range of 6-7, but it can also tolerate water that is slightly warmer and more alkaline. It is also tolerant of low light conditions and can grow in both full sun and partial shade.

One of the benefits of Awlwort is that it provides a good source of food and cover for aquatic wildlife such as fish and amphibians. Its long leaves and small flowers are also an important source of food for aquatic insects such as dragonflies and damselflies.

Another benefit of Awlwort is its ability to help control the growth of algae in a pond or water feature. Its thick, dense growth can shade the water, which limits the amount of sunlight that reaches the bottom of the pond. This can help prevent the growth of certain types of algae that require a lot of sunlight to survive. Additionally, Awlwort can also help to improve water quality by removing excess nutrients from the water.

Awlwort is also an ideal plant for use in naturalistic water gardens or in a bog garden. It can be planted alone or in groups and it's easy to propagate from its seeds. It can also be propagated by dividing the rhizomes. It's a low-maintenance plant that doesn't require fertilization, but it's a good idea to keep an eye on the water quality and make sure the pH level is at optimal range for the plant.

In terms of its aesthetic value, Awlwort provides a unique and interesting texture to a water garden. Its narrow leaves and delicate flowers create a graceful and natural look that can complement other aquatic plants.

Overall, Awlwort is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that is well suited for a variety of water features. Its ability to improve water quality and control algae growth, as well as its food and cover benefits for aquatic wildlife, make it a great choice for any water garden or pond.

Another benefit of Awlwort is its ability to help control the growth of aquatic weeds. Its dense growth and ability to outcompete other aquatic plants can prevent the spread of invasive species in a water feature. It's considered an invasive species in some areas, so it's important to do proper research before introducing it in a new area.

Awlwort can also be used in a variety of aquatic gardening applications, such as in aquariums, terrariums, and even as a marginal plant in a water garden. In an aquarium, it can be planted in the substrate or in a pot and it will provide cover for fish and other aquatic animals. In a terrarium, it can be used as a background plant, creating a natural and lush look.

When planted in a water garden, Awlwort can be used to create natural-looking edges or as a focal point in a water feature. It can also be used to create a natural-looking stream or pond. When planted in groups, Awlwort can create a dense, lush look that can complement other aquatic plants.

In conclusion, Awlwort (Subularia aquatica) is a fascinating and versatile aquatic plant that is well suited for a variety of water features. Its hardy nature and ability to improve water quality, control algae growth, and provide food and cover for aquatic wildlife make it a great choice for any water garden or pond. Its aesthetic value and ability to be used in different gardening applications make it an interesting plant to consider for any nature lover.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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