Quick Facts

Species Type

Native

Habitat

Fresh to moderately brackish tidal waters that have a slow current and a firm, muddy bottom

Range

Found in the upper to middle Chesapeake Bay and in many Maryland rivers; not recently documented in Virginia.

Conservation Status

Stable

Appearance

Redhead grass is made up of straight, slender stems that are reddish or whitish. The plant has flat, oval leaves with curled edges and visible veins. Leaves grow in an alternate or slightly opposite pattern.

The base of the leaves wrap around the stem. Spikes of tiny flowers poke above the water’s surface in early-mid summer. Redhead grass has an extensive root and rhizome system.

Predators

Migratory waterfowl feed on redhead grass.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Reproduces sexually in early-mid summer when flowers are pollinated. Plants produce dark-colored fruits that contain seeds. The fruits eventually mature and sink to the bottom, releasing the seeds. Redhead grass reproduces asexually when buds that develop over the summer produce shoots the following spring.

Did You Know?

  • Redhead grass is probably named after the redhead, a duck that was once a common winter visitor to the Bay region. It is also known as clasping leaf pondweed.
  • Migratory waterfowl feed on redhead grass.
  • Young shoots of redhead grass can be confused with curly pondweed.

Sources and Additional Information