Quick Facts

Species Type

Nonnative

Habitat

Fresh non-tidal to slightly brackish tidal waters

Range

Native to Europe; found in the upper Chesapeake Bay and in tributaries such as streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs throughout the Bay watershed.

Conservation Status

Stable

Appearance

Curly pondweed is made up of broad leaves with curly, finely toothed edges. These leaves grow to 1 to 4 inches long. They grow alternately or slightly opposite on flat, branched stems.

In winter, leaves are blue-green and more flattened. In spring and summer, leaves are reddish-brown and become wider and curlier. Curly pondweed has a shallow root and rhizome system which is a type of plant stem with nodes that roots grow from.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Curly pondweed has a three-stage life cycle. During spring and summer, flowers bloom and float at the water’s surface. The plant begins to die in mid-summer after producing buds, which lie dormant until autumn. In winter, the spring/summer cycle repeats itself when buds sprout into new flowers. Curly pondweed can also reproduce asexually when rhizomes or burr-like structures near the tips of the stems develop into new plants.

Did You Know?

  • Curly pondweed was likely introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s.
  • It can become invasive in non-tidal waters because it grows early in the season and can shade out other underwater grasses.
  • Curly pondweed can be confused with young shoots of redhead grass.

Sources and Additional Information