Derivation of specific name
General: Pondweed family (Potamogetonaceae). Curly pondweed is an introduced, fast growing perennial. The stems are flattened and somewhat branching, forty to eighty centimeters long and mostly one to two millimeters wide (Guard 1995). The leaves are simple, long, narrow and attached directly to the stem. The flowers are brownish and inconspicuous and usually occur from May to October.
Distribution: Curly pondweed has been introduced from Massachusetts to Minnesota, south to Virginia and Missouri (Tiner 1987). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
This species is native throughout most of the old world, from Europe to Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, China and northern southeast Asia with discontinuous populations in Sumatra (Indonesia) and Australia. It also occurs throughout the Mediterranean including North Africa and through the Black Sea region to the Caucasus. Found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa.
Distribution in Egypt
Nile region, Oases, Mediterranean region, Egyptian desert and Sinai.
Temperate Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North America.
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
North Korea (Asia)
New Zealand (Oceania)
Russian Federation (Asia)
South Korea (Asia)
United States (North America)
Argentina (South America)
Canada (North America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Colombia (South America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Hauman, L. & G. Vanderveken. 1917. Catalogue des Phanérogames de l'argentine. Anales Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires 29: 1–351. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/43956
- Hicken, C. M. 1910. Chlor. Plat. Argent. 1–292. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/43927
- Hauman, L. 1913. Stude phytogéographique de la region du Rio Negro inférieur (Republique Argentine). Anales Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires 24: 289–443. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/44016
- Haynes, R. R. & L. Holm-Nielsen. 2003. Potamogetonaceae. Fl. Neotrop. 85: 1–52. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1020543
- Berg. 1877. Anales Soc. Ci. Argent. 3: 200. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/43542
- Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Man. Vasc. Fl. Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/636
- Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston. 1970. Man. Vasc. Pl. Texas i–xv, 1–1881. The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1493
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Fernald, M. 1950. Manual (ed. 8) i–lxiv, 1–1632. American Book Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1327
- Hickman, J. C. 1993. Jepson Man.: Higher Pl. Calif. i–xvii, 1–1400. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/40453
- Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1959. Cal. Fl. 1–1681. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1717
- Munz, P. A. 1974. Fl. S. Calif. 1–1086. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1719
- Voss, E. G. 1972. Gymnosperms and Monocots. i–xv, 1–488. In Michigan Fl. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1494
- Davidse, G., M. Sousa Sánchez & A. O. Chater. (eds.) 1994. Alismataceae a Cyperaceae. Fl. Mesoamer. 6: i–xvi, 1–543. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/8200
- Godfrey, R. K. & J. W. Wooten. 1979. Aquatic Wetland Pl. S.E. U.S. Monocot. 1–712. The University of Georgia Press, Athens. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1710
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 1988-2013. Fl. China Unpaginated. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/42480
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 2010. Fl. China 23: 1–515. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100001734
- Novelo R., A. & A. L. H. 1994. 237. Potamogetonaceae. Fl. Mesoamer. 6: 13–15. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1006126
- Tur, N. M. 1982. Revisión del género Potamogeton L. en la Argentina. Darwiniana 24: 217–265. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/36537
- Gleason, H. A. & A. J. Cronquist. 1968. The Pteridophytoa, Gymnospermae and Monocotyledoneae. 1: 1–482. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1495
- Cronquist, A. J., A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren & Reveal. 1977. Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. 6: 1–584. In A. J. Cronquist, A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren, J. L. Reveal & P. K. Holmgren (eds.) Intermount. Fl. Hafner Pub. Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1725
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
This species has invasive qualities. Curly pondweed is commonly found in ponds, lakes, canals, pools and slow moving water of rivers and streams. This plant grows well in sandy, loamy and clay soils. It prefers acid, neutral and basic soil and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils. This species is not shade tolerant.
Habitat and Ecology
Propagation by Seed: Curly pondweed seeds should be sown as soon as they are ripe, in summer or early autumn (Heuser 1997). The seeds lose viability quickly if they are allowed to dry out (Ibid). Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and increase the depth of water around the pot until the plants are covered by a few centimeters of water. Grow the plants in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter, increasing the depth of water, as the plants grow larger. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Potamogeton crispus
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Potamogeton crispus
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 25
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This is a widespread species which faces no major threat. It is listed as Least Concern.
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Introduced into the U.S. Considered a pest by several sources. Please consult the PLANTS Plant Profile for this species and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
Materials are available from wetland plant vendors. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Curly pondweed is an aquatic plant that can be used as an oxygenator of ponds. This species sometimes becomes a pest in waterways, lakes and reservoirs (Guard 1995). It is a fast growing plant in need of constant checking to make sure it does not overrun ponds, pools or canals.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Wildlife: Curly pondweed tends to increase oxygen levels and produce substantial organic material in aquatic environments (Guard 1995). This pondweed shelters small fish and aquatic insects that provide food for larger fish and amphibians (Ibid.).
Potamogeton crispus, an introduced species, has spread throughout much of North America. The expansion of this species’s range from its original collection in North America, apparently about 1840, has been discussed (R. L. Stuckey 1979). This is the only species of pondweeds in North America with serrate leaves and consequently it is easily recognized.
Life history of Potamogeton crispus is unusual as it flowers and fruits in late spring and early summer, at which time it also produces turions. The plants decay shortly after those structures develop, leaving only fruits and turions, which survive the summer. No one has observed any seed germination, but the turions (referred to as dormant apices) germinate in late summer or fall, and the plants overwinter as small plants only a few cm centimeters in size, even under the ice in northern climates (R. L. Stuckey et al. 1978). Growth then continues as the water begins warming in the spring.