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Common Water Starwort

Callitriche stagnalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Callitrichaceae (Water Starwort)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Ditches, ponds, water, wetland.

Green, no petals
Tiny green, petalless and solitary insignificant flowers which appear at the leaf bases, sometimes in pairs. Male flowers with yellow anthers. Male and female flowers are separated.
Near-spherical fruits, roughly 2mm in diameter. The fruit is narrowly winged.
Untoothed leaves which are arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. The leaves can be either submerged or floating. Floating leaves are egg-shaped with 5 to 7 veins, 1cm wide and 2cm long. Submerged leaves are linear, reaching 1cm long.
Other Names:
Pond Water-starwort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Callitriche stagnalis, commonly known as pond water-starwort, is a perennial aquatic vascular plant species native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. The plant is typically found in shallow water, usually less than 10 cm deep, and can spread to the surface to form mats. It has elongated stems that can grow from 4-12 inches in length, and small, delicate flowers that lack petals and sepals. The plant is often used as an aquarium plant, and is an excellent oxygenator.


Common Water Starwort (Callitriche stagnalis) is a species of aquatic plant belonging to the Plantaginaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but can be found in other parts of the world as an invasive species. This plant is commonly known for its ability to grow in still or slow-flowing water bodies and its resistance to environmental stressors.

The Common Water Starwort is a small, rooted, emergent plant that grows in water up to 20 cm deep. It has slender stems that can grow up to 30 cm long and leaves that are oblong or oval-shaped, with a dark green color and a smooth texture. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stems and are either floating or submerged.

The plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are typically greenish-white in color and arranged in spikes. The flowers are pollinated by wind, and the seeds are dispersed by the movement of water. The plant reproduces both sexually and vegetatively, with new plants developing from fragments of stems that break off and float away.

The Common Water Starwort is a hardy plant that is able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including high levels of pollutants and changes in water levels. This makes it a common species in areas that have been heavily impacted by human activity, such as agricultural runoff, sewage discharge, and urbanization.

The plant is also an important food source for a variety of aquatic animals, including insects, snails, and ducks. Additionally, the Common Water Starwort provides important habitat for a range of aquatic life, including fish and amphibians.

The Common Water Starwort is a versatile and hardy plant that plays an important role in aquatic ecosystems. Its ability to tolerate environmental stressors makes it a common species in disturbed areas, but its importance as a food source and habitat provider cannot be underestimated.

In addition to its ecological significance, the Common Water Starwort has also been used for medicinal purposes. In traditional medicine, it has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including digestive issues and respiratory problems. The plant contains a range of compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it a promising candidate for further research into its potential health benefits.

However, despite its many benefits, the Common Water Starwort can also have negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems when it becomes invasive. In areas where it is not native, it can outcompete and displace native plant species, altering the balance of the ecosystem and reducing its overall diversity. As a result, it is important to monitor its spread and manage its impact where necessary.

In summary, the Common Water Starwort is a species with a complex relationship with the environment. While it is important for many reasons, including its ecological significance and potential medicinal uses, it can also be harmful when it becomes invasive. Ongoing research and management efforts are needed to understand and mitigate its impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

In terms of cultivation, the Common Water Starwort is relatively easy to grow and can be found in many aquatic plant nurseries. It is typically grown in ponds, water gardens, and other aquatic habitats, and can be used for a variety of purposes, including ornamental landscaping, erosion control, and water quality improvement.

When growing the Common Water Starwort, it is important to provide the plant with the right conditions, such as still or slow-flowing water, adequate sunlight, and fertile soil. The plant also requires consistent water levels and is sensitive to fluctuations, so it is important to keep an eye on water levels and adjust as needed.

In conclusion, the Common Water Starwort is a fascinating plant species with a rich history and many benefits. From its ecological significance to its potential medicinal uses, there is much to learn and appreciate about this versatile aquatic plant. Whether you are a scientist, landscaper, or just someone interested in nature, the Common Water Starwort is well worth exploring.


Common Water Starwort filmed at Skelworth Bridge in the Lake District on the 17th April 2023.


Music credits
Guess Who by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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