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Cape Pondweed

Aponogeton distachyos

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:
Aponogetonaceae (Cape Pondweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres long
Gardens, parks, ponds, water.

White, 2 petals
2-petaled white flowers which are arranged in forked spikes. 6 or more purple anthers.
Egg-shaped fruit.
An evergreen aquatic perennial with floating leaves. The leaves are elliptic or lance-shaped.
The flowers are sweetly fragrant.
Other Names:
Cape Asparagus, Cape Pond Weed, Cape-pondweed, Hawthorn-scented Pondweed, Vleikos, Water Hawthorn, Water Hyacinth, Water Hyacinth, Waterblommetjie, Winter Hawthorn.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Aponogeton distachyos, commonly known as Cape Pondweed, is a perennial aquatic plant that is native to southern Africa. It is commonly found in freshwater ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. The leaves are long, narrow 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, but showy, whitish or pinkish, 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. It's a popular aquarium plant and is often grown submerged in ponds.


Cape Pondweed, also known as Aponogeton distachyos, is a unique and fascinating aquatic plant that is native to South Africa. It is a popular choice among aquatic gardeners and enthusiasts due to its attractive appearance and impressive growth rate. In this blog, we will take a closer look at this fascinating plant, its characteristics, and how to care for it.


Cape Pondweed is a perennial aquatic plant that belongs to the family Aponogetonaceae. It is a relatively small plant, growing to a height of only about 30-50 cm. It has long, slender stems that emerge from a cluster of fleshy, bulbous roots. The leaves are dark green, narrow, and elongated, measuring about 20-30 cm in length. The plant produces small, fragrant flowers that are white in color and are arranged in a spike-like inflorescence. The flowers are hermaphroditic, meaning that they contain both male and female reproductive organs.

Growing Conditions

Cape Pondweed is a versatile plant that can grow in a range of conditions. It thrives in freshwater environments such as ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams. It prefers full sunlight but can also grow in partial shade. The plant is hardy and can tolerate a range of temperatures, but it does best in temperatures between 18-24°C.

Caring for Cape Pondweed

Cape Pondweed is relatively easy to care for, and with the right conditions, it can grow rapidly. Here are some tips on how to care for this fascinating plant:

  1. Water Quality: Cape Pondweed thrives in freshwater environments, but the water quality needs to be well-maintained. The water should be pH-neutral and free from pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and fertilizers.

  2. Lighting: Cape Pondweed requires plenty of sunlight to thrive. If it is grown indoors, it should be placed near a sunny window or under artificial lighting that mimics natural sunlight.

  3. Temperature: Cape Pondweed can tolerate a range of temperatures, but it does best in temperatures between 18-24°C. It is essential to maintain a stable temperature to prevent stress and damage to the plant.

  4. Fertilization: Cape Pondweed is a heavy feeder, and regular fertilization is essential for optimal growth. Use a high-quality fertilizer that is specifically formulated for aquatic plants.

  5. Pruning: Regular pruning is essential to prevent the plant from becoming overgrown and to maintain its attractive appearance. Trim off any dead or dying leaves and stems to encourage new growth.

In conclusion, Cape Pondweed is a fascinating aquatic plant that is easy to care for and adds beauty to any aquatic garden. With the right conditions and care, this plant can grow rapidly and become a stunning centerpiece in any water feature.

More Information

One of the unique characteristics of Cape Pondweed is its ability to go dormant during periods of drought or extreme temperature changes. The plant will shed its leaves and retreat to its bulbous roots until the conditions improve, at which point it will begin to regrow and produce new leaves and flowers.

Cape Pondweed is also known for its fragrant flowers, which emit a pleasant aroma that is reminiscent of vanilla or almond. The flowers are pollinated by insects, and the plant will produce small, oval-shaped fruits that contain seeds. These seeds can be collected and used to propagate new plants.

Propagation of Cape Pondweed can be done through seed propagation or vegetative propagation. Seed propagation involves collecting the seeds from the plant and sowing them in moist soil or directly into the water. Vegetative propagation involves dividing the plant into smaller sections and planting them in separate containers or directly into the water.

One of the benefits of growing Cape Pondweed is its ability to help improve the water quality in aquatic environments. The plant absorbs excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can help reduce algae growth and improve water clarity.

In terms of pests and diseases, Cape Pondweed is relatively resistant to most common aquatic pests and diseases. However, it can be susceptible to root rot if the water is stagnant or if the plant is overwatered.

Another interesting aspect of Cape Pondweed is its cultural significance. In South Africa, the plant is known as "waterblommetjie," which means "little water flower" in Afrikaans. The plant is a traditional ingredient in South African cuisine and is used in a popular dish called "waterblommetjiebredie," which is a stew made with lamb or mutton, vegetables, and the edible flowers of the plant.

Cape Pondweed is also an important ecological resource in its native habitat, providing food and habitat for a variety of aquatic organisms. It is also an indicator species for the health of freshwater ecosystems, as it requires high water quality and is sensitive to changes in water temperature and nutrient levels.

In terms of its conservation status, Cape Pondweed is currently listed as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, like many aquatic plants, it is threatened by habitat loss, water pollution, and climate change, and its populations are declining in some parts of its range.

In conclusion, Cape Pondweed is a fascinating and versatile aquatic plant that has cultural, ecological, and aesthetic value. With its attractive appearance, pleasant fragrance, and ability to improve water quality, it is a great addition to any aquatic garden or water feature. As with any plant, it is important to care for Cape Pondweed properly and to be mindful of its conservation status in its native habitat.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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