Potamogeton alpinus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Potamogeton alpinus
Potamogeton alpinus, robust form (the River. Uftyuga, Vologda reg., Russia).jpg
Robust form of Potamogeton alpinus in a river in Russia.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Potamogetonaceae
Genus: Potamogeton
Species: P. alpinus
Binomial name
Potamogeton alpinus
  • Buccaferrea rufescens (Schrad.) Bubani
  • Potamogeton alpinonatans F.W.Schultz
  • Potamogeton annulatus Bellardi
  • Potamogeton casparii Weyl
  • Potamogeton microstachys Wolfg.
  • Potamogeton montanensis Gand.
  • Potamogeton nigrescens Fr.
  • Potamogeton obrutus Alph.Wood.
  • Potamogeton obscurus DC
  • Potamogeton obtusus Ducros ex Gaud.
  • Potamogeton purpurascens Seidl ex J.Presl. & C.Presl.
  • Potamogeton rigidus Wolfg.
  • Potamogeton rufescens Schrad.
  • Potamogeton semipellucidus W.D.J.Koch & Ziz
  • Potamogeton stylatus Hagstr.
  • Potamogeton thomasii A.Benn.

Potamogeton alpinus is a species of perennial aquatic plant known by the common names alpine pondweed[2] and red pondweed.[3] It is widespread in the northern hemisphere in both rivers and lakes with good water quality.


Red pondweed is a perennial herb anchoring in the mud substrate via a creeping rhizome. It produces a cylindrical unbranched stem, up to 2.8 m in length. It has sessile lance-shaped submerged leaves that are typically 70–180 mm long and 10–25 mm wide with 4-7 lateral veins on either side and a slightly hooded apex, with an untoothed margin.[4] Floating leaves may also be produced. The inflorescence is a spike of flowers a few centimeters long rising above the water surface. Turions are absent, but in winter each stem dies back to a resting bud with a short length of root, which acts as a functional turion.[5]

Red pondweed Potamogeton alpinus and shoreweed Littorella uniflora growing in a stream pool in North Wales.

Red pondweed is a reasonably distinctive plant and is not likely to be confused with any other pondweed. Early in the growing season it could be confused with P. polygonifolius, but the submerged leaves of the latter have petioles and are relatively longer. P. praelongus is generally greener with noticeably white, zig-zagged stems that generally branch, never produces floating leaves, and its submerged leaves clasp the stem. Fresh specimens often, but not always, show a reddish tint, but this becomes much more obvious in dried material.[4] Despite its name it is neither restricted to alpine regions or unique among pondweeds in having a reddish colouration.

Chromosome counts[6] show that, like most other broad-leaved pondweeds, P. alpinus is tetraploid, with 2n=52 chromosomes.

Hybrids have been described with P. crispus (P. × olivaceus Baagøe ex G.Fisch.), P. gramineus (P. × nericius Hagstr.), P. natans (P. × exilis Z.Kaplan & Uotila), P. nodosus (P. × argutulus Hagstr.), P. lucens (P. × nerviger Wolfg.), P. perfoliatus (P. × prussicus Hagstr.), P. polygonifolus, (P. × spathulatus Schrad. ex W.D.J.Koch & Ziz), and P. praelongus (P. × griffithii A. Benn.).[4][7][8] All are rather rare, but where they do occur they may be locally abundant and long-lived.


Potamogeton alpinus was described by the Italian botanist Giovanni Balbis in 1804. The species name means 'alpine'.

Like many other pondweeds, the variability in growth form of P. alpinus in response to environmental conditions (phenotypic plasticity) and across its geographical range has led to it accumulating a number of synonyms.[9][10]


Red pondweed is native to much of the Northern Hemisphere, including Asia (Afghanistan, China (Heilongjiang), India (Assam), Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan),[11] Europe (Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, France including Corsica, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain (Pyrenees), Sweden, Switzerland), Greenland, Canada, and the northern United States, especially the Rockies.[7][12]

Ecology and conservation[edit]

Potamogeton alpinus generally grows in neutral to mildly acid (but not very base-poor) water bodies such as lakes, slow-moving rivers and streams, and ponds.[4][13][14] P. alpinus needs a deep fine substrate such as sand, silt or peat to root in[4] and appears to avoid exposed situations. It is, mainly restricted to fairly nutrient-poor waters.[15] In European rivers, it is associated with high quality environments.[16] In a large-scale study of the plant communities of 3447 British lakes,[13] red pondweed was found in 169, with a preference for circumneutral, moderate alkalinity lakes. Unlike other broad-leaved pondweeds, the stolons of red pondweed die back in winter, leaving constellations of resting buds rooted in the substrate, which regrow in spring.[5] In rivers, red pondweed can persist entirely by asexual means (rooting of stem fragments and turion-like resting bodies, and growth in summer)[5] though this may reflect weed cutting suppressing flowering and seed set.

In Britain P. alpinus has declined markedly, especially in the south, though it still occurs throughout Britain.[17] In Wales red pondweed was recently assessed as Critically Endangered,[18] and in England it is categorised as Vulnerable.[19] Declines have also been reported elsewhere in Europe and North America; it is Regionally Extinct in Luxemburg[20] and Pennsylvania,[21] Critically Endangered in Spain,[22] Vulnerable in Germany[23] and the Netherlands,[24] Endangered in the Czech Republic,[25] the Carpathian region,[26] Flanders[27] and New Jersey and threatened in New Hampshire and New York.[21] This is likely related to a combaination of eutrophication, infilling of ponds and canalization of rivers. It is still widespread in Scotland and Ireland and presumably in other more sparsely populated parts of its range such as Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia.

Red pondweed is one of the so-called Magnopotamion group of pondweeds. These are a characteristic floristic component of the protected Habitats Directive habitat Type 'Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion'.[28]


Potamogeton alpinus is not in widespread cultivation, and seems to be rather difficult to maintain, competing poorly with other pond plants. It is possible that this is related to its preference for a deep fine substrate. In common with other pondweeds of this group it roots poorly from stem cuttings and is best propagated by division of the rhizomes.

Red pondweed (Potamogeton alpinus) in cultivation (Wales, UK). The smaller, greener leaved plant is Potamogeton gramineus.


  1. ^ The Plant List: Potamogeton alpinus. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens. Accessed November 18, 2014
  2. ^ "Potamogeton alpinus". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Preston C.D. (1995). Pondweeds of Great Britain and Ireland. BSBI Handbook No. 8. Botanical Society of the British Isles, London.
  5. ^ a b c Brux H., Todeskino D, Wiegleb G. 1987. Growth and reproduction of Potamogeton alpinus Balbis growing in disturbed habitats. Archiv für Hydrobiologie, 27, 115-127.
  6. ^ Kaplan Z., Jarolímová V., Fehrer J, 2013. Revision of chromosome numbers of Potamogetonaceae: a new basis for taxonomic and evolutionary implications. Preslia, 85, 421-482.
  7. ^ a b Haynes R.R., Hellquist C.B. Flora of North America: Potamogetonaceae. Accessed 11 November 2014.
  8. ^ Kaplan Z, Uotila P. 2011 Potamogeton × exilis (P. alpinus × P. natans), a new hybrid pondweed from Finland. Nordic Journal of Botany, 29, 477-483.
  9. ^ Kaplan Z. 2002. Phenotypic plasticity in Potamogeton (Potamogetonaceae). Folia Geobotanica, 37, 141-170.
  10. ^ Wiegleb G., Kaplan Z. 1998. An account of the species of Potamogeton L. Folia Geobotanica, 33, 241-316
  11. ^ Guo Y., Haynes R.R., Hellquist C.B., Kaplan Z. 2010. Potamogeton. Flora of China, 23, 108-114.
  12. ^ Naturhistorika riksmuseet (Sweden) Den virtuellen flora: rostnate Potamogeton alpinus Balb., northern hemisphere range map
  13. ^ a b Duigan C., Kovach W., Palmer M. 2006. Vegetation communities of British lakes: a revised classification. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.
  14. ^ Bobrov A.A., Chemeris E.V. 2009. Pondweeds (Potamogeton, Potamogetonaceae) in River Ecosystems in the North of European Russia. Doklady Biological Sciences, 425, 705-708.
  15. ^ Søndergaard M., Johansson L.S., Lauridsen T.L., Jørgensen T.B., Liboriussen L., Jeppesen E. 2009. Submerged macrophytes as indicators of the ecological quality of lakes. Freshwater Biology, 55, 893-908.
  16. ^ Birk S., Willby N. 2010. Towards harmonization of ecological quality classification: establishing common grounds in European macrophyteassessment for rivers. Hydrobiologia, 652, 149-163.
  17. ^ Preston C.D., Pearman D.A., Dines T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora: An Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  18. ^ Dines T.D. 2008. A Vascular Plant Red List for Wales. Plantlife International, Salisbury.
  19. ^ Stroh P.A., Leach S.J., August T.A., Walker K.J., Pearman D.A., Rumsey F.J., Harrower C.A., Fay M.F., Martin J.P., Pankhurst T., Preston C.D. & Taylor I. 2014. A Vascular Plant Red List for England. Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, Bristol.
  20. ^ Colling G. 2005. Red List of the Vascular Plants of Luxembourg. Ferrantia, 42, 1-69.
  21. ^ a b United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service: Plants Profile for Potamogeton alpinus. Accessed 12 November 2014.
  22. ^ Moreno, J.C., coord. 2008. Lista Roja 2008 de la flora vascular española. Dirección General de Medio Natural y Política Forestal (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino, y Sociedad Española de Biología de la Conservación de Plantas), Madrid, 86 pp.
  23. ^ Bundesamt fur Naturschutz: Potamogeton alpinus (in German)
  24. ^ Sparrius L.B., Odé B., Beringen R. 2014. Basisreport Rode Lijst Vaatplanten 2012 volgens Nederlandse en IUCN-criteria. FLORON Rapport 57. Floron, Nijmegen.
  25. ^ Grulich V. 2012. Red List of vascular plants of the Czech Republic: 3rd edition. Preslia, 84, 631–645.
  26. ^ Witkowski Z.J., Król W., Solarz W. (eds.). 2003. Carpathian List Of Endangered Species. WWF and Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Vienna-Krakow
  27. ^ Van Landuyt W., Vanhecke L., Hoste I. 2006. Rode Lijst van de vaatplanten van Vlaanderen en het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest. In : Van Landuyt W. et al. Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels Gewest. INBO en Nationale Plantentuin van België, Brussel. Web version.
  28. ^ "Joint Nature Conservation Committee: 3150 Natural Eutrophic Lakes". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 

External links[edit]