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Cabomba aquatica (from Lindley 1853)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Cabombaceae
Genus: Cabomba
Type species
Cabomba aquatica Aublet[1]

See text

  • Nectris Schreb.
  • Villarsia Neck.

Cabomba is an aquatic plant genus, one of two belonging to the family Cabombaceae. It has divided submerged leaves in the shape of a fan (hence the vernacular name fanwort) and is much favoured by aquarists as an ornamental and oxygenating plant for fish tanks. One species, Cabomba caroliniana, is a nationally declared weed in Australia, where it has choked up waterways after escaping from aquaria.

Submerged leaf of Cabomba caroliniana A.Gray with scale bar (2 cm) on a white background



The genus Cabomba Aubl. consists of six species:[2]

Flowers and reproduction[edit]

leaves and flowers of a Cabomba species in water
Cabomba aquatica Aubl.

The perianth of Cabomba is either trimerous (having members in each whorl in groups of three) or dimerous (in groups of two) with white, oval-shaped petals, and is usually about 2.0 cm (0.79 in) across when fully developed. The petals are unlike the sepals in that the former have two yellow ear-shaped nectaries at the base. Petals may also have purplish edges. Flowers are protogynous, having primarily female sexual structures on the first day of appearance and then switching to male on the second and subsequent days. Flowers emerge and are designed to be pollinated above the waterline. Principal pollinators are flies and other small flying insects.[3]

Cabomba as an aquarium plant[edit]

Cabomba is frequently planted in aquaria, as an attractive-leaved water plant that is fast-growing (up to 1 in (25 mm) per day). Green cabomba (C. caroliniana) is the most common, and the easiest aquarium subject. By contrast, red cabomba (C. furcata) is considered to be one of the hardest plants to care for in the aquarium.[citation needed]

Invasive species[edit]

Use in the aquarium trade has led to some species being introduced to other parts of the world, such as Australia, where Cabomba caroliniana it is a nationally declared weed.[4] Having arrived in 1967, it spread rapidly in waterways and out-competed native plants, threatening water supplies, especially along the eastern side of the continent.[5] In Australia, the cabomba weevil (Hydrotimetes natans) is introduced to waterways as a means of biological control of Cabomba caroliniana.[6][5] They consume the plant's tips and inflict significant harm when present in large quantities. Larvae burrow within the stems and result in substantial damage to the main stem due to tissue necrosis.[7]


  1. ^ Cabomba | International Plant Names Index. (n.d.). Retrieved August 13, 2023, from
  2. ^ a b "Cabomba Aubl". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  3. ^ Klaus Kubitzki; Jens G. Rohwer; Volker Bittrich (28 July 1993). Flowering Plants · Dicotyledons: Magnoliid, Hamamelid and Caryophyllid Families. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-540-55509-4.
  4. ^ "Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)". NSW WeedWise. 24 January 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  5. ^ a b Nichols, Jennifer (10 July 2023). "Cabomba weevil unleashed on weed-infesting Australian waterways". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  6. ^ Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. (2023, May 9). Hydrotimetes natans for the biological control of Cabomba caroliniana. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from
  7. ^ Kumaran, N., Vance, T. J., Comben, D., Dell, Q., Oleiro, M. I., Goñalons, C. M., ... & Raghu, S. (2022). "Hydrotimetes natans as a suitable biological control agent for the invasive weed Cabomba caroliniana." Biological Control, 169, 104894.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cabomba at Wikimedia Commons