Potamogeton gramineus

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Potamogeton gramineus
Potamogeton gramineus (3817604665).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Potamogetonaceae
Genus: Potamogeton
P. gramineus
Binomial name
Potamogeton gramineus
  • Potamogeton argutulus Hagstr.
  • Potamogeton augustani Bellardi
  • Potamogeton augustanus Balb.
  • Potamogeton biformoides Papch.
  • Potamogeton borealis Kihlm.
  • Potamogeton crassipes Kit. ex Cham. & Schlecht.
  • Potamogeton delicatulus Bertol.
  • Potamogeton distachyus Bellardi
  • Potamogeton falcatus Fryer
  • Potamogeton filiformis Pursh ex Tuck.
  • Potamogeton gracilis Wolfg..
  • Potamogeton graminifolius (Fr.) Benkö
  • Potamogeton heterophyllus Schreb.
  • Potamogeton heterophyllus Torr.
  • Potamogeton hybridus Petagna
  • Potamogeton lanceolatus Poir.
  • Potamogeton lanciformis Roem. & Schult.
  • Potamogeton latifolius Sloboda
  • Potamogeton longipedunculatus Mérat
  • Potamogeton oblongifolius Hook.f.
  • Potamogeton palustris Teesd.
  • Potamogeton paucifolius Opiz
  • Potamogeton seemenii Asch. & Graebn.
  • Potamogeton spathiformis Tuck. ex A.Gray
  • Potamogeton varians Morong ex Fryer
  • Potamogeton wolfgangii Kihlm.
  • Spirillus heterophyllus (Schreb.) Nieuwl.

Potamogeton gramineus is a species of aquatic plant known by the common name various-leaved pondweed,[2] variableleaf pondweed,[3] grass-leaved pondweed or grassy pondweed, native to the northern hemisphere where it grows in shallow, clean water.


This is an aquatic perennial growing from a creeping rhizome that anchors in wet substrate. It produces thin, cylindrical, heavily branching stems usually less than a metre in length. The submerged leaves are sessile, relatively narrow, typically 40–90 mm long and 5–12 mm wide along the main stem but smaller on the side branches.[4] They are translucent and pale green with a white midrib, and finely toothed. Floating leaves are more oval in shape, 20–70 mm long by 7–34 mm wide,[4] and borne on long petioles. The inflorescence is a short spike of many flowers arising from the water on a stout peduncle.

This species readily hybridizes with many other species of Potamogeton. Hybrids have been recorded with P. perfoliatus (P. × nitens Weber), P. lucens (P. × angustifolius J.Presl.), P. natans (P. × sparganiifolius Laest. ex Fr.), P. coloratus (P. × billupsii Fryer), P. maackianus (P. × biwaensis Miki), P. illinoensis (P. × spathuliformis (J.W.Robbins) Morong), P. richardsonii (P. × hagstromii A.Benn.), P. alpinus (P. × nericius Hagstr.), P. nodosus (P. × lanceolatifolius (Tiselius) C.D.Preston), P. oakesianus (P. × mirabilis Z.Kaplan, Hellq. & Fehrer) and P. polygonifolius.[4][1] In Britain, P. x nitens and P. x angustifolius are quite common. Recent molecular analysis has shown that Swedish collections of the putative hybrid P. gramineus x P. polygonifolius are in fact P. gramineus x P. nodosus.[5]

A triple hybrid, P. gramineus × lucens × perfoliatus (P. × torssandrii (Tiselius) Dörfler), is also known.

As well as hybridising frequently, various-leaved pondweed is an extremely variable plant and care should be taken with its identification.[4]


Potamogeton gramineus (gramineus meaning 'grasslike') was one of the original species named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum (1753). However, due to its highly variable nature and propensity for hybridisation, various-leaved pondweed has received a bewildering number of synonyms.

DNA analysis[6] indicates that P. gramineus is one of the broad-leaved pondweed clade (section Potamogeton) and is probably most closely related to the P. lucens group.


Potamogeton gramineus is native to much of the Northern Hemisphere, with a Holarctic distribution. It occurs in northern Europe (Britain,[4] Ireland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Russia, the Baltic States),[7][8] Greenland, North America (USA except for the southeast, Canada).[7][9] There are outlying populations in southern Europe (Iberia, Corsica, Italy), Caucasus, Pyrenees and western USA.[7]

Various-leaved pondweed, Potamogeton gramineus, in a garden pond.

Ecology and Conservation[edit]

Various-leaved pondweed grows in various water body types including ponds, lakes, bogs, ditches and streams. It is usually restricted to shallower water <1 m deep,[4] though it has been recorded growing at more than 5 m depth in very clear, oligotrophic water in Llynnau Cregennen, Wales.[10] It is intolerant of nutrient pollution and is not usually found in base-poor water of alkalinity less than about 200 ueq l−1. The roots penetrate to a depth of about 10 cm.[11] In Michigan streams, P. gramineus is restricted to riffles with warmer interstitial temperatures.[11]

Grazing by waterfowl can have a significant effect on various-leaved pondweed. In Sentiz Lake (Leon, Spain), P. gramineus was sparse and the dominant plants were Ceratophyllum demersum and Myriophyllum spicatum. However, within experimental cages from which waterfowl were excluded, P. gramineus became co-dominant and developed both flowers and floating leaves.[12]

In Britain, it has shown the same pattern of decline as other broad-leaved pondweeds such as P. praelongus and P. alpinus, with most losses occurring in southern Britain,[13] and is now classed as near threatened in England.[14] This likely reflects increasing eutrophication, canalization of rivers leading to loss of backwater habitats and other floodplain standing waters, and degradation or loss of pond and lake habitats. P. gramineus may also grow in open reedbeds, and the loss of traditional reed cutting practices may have caused the loss of populations from this habitat. It is Critically Endangered in the Czech Republic,[15] Endangered in Germany,[16] Flanders[17] and Switzerland,[18] Near Threatened in the Netherlands,[19] and scarce and of conservation importance in Spain.[20] Local extinction has also been recorded in Lower Saxony between 1948 and 1986.[21] In the US, P. gramineus is listed as Threatened in Illinois and Endangered in Ohio and Pennsylvania.[9]

Indices of environmental tolerance using trophic ranking schemes in Europe tend to show P. gramineus to be one of the more nutrient-sensitive aquatic plants.[22][23][24] Studies in the Netherlands show P. gramineus to be associated with Littorelletea lakes, and to be one of a suite of species sensitive to acidification.[25] Various-leaved 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'.[26] However, in Britain P. gramineus also occurs in waters with lower nutrient concentrations and is considered a characteristic species of mesotrophic lakes.[27]


Potamogeton gramineus is not in general cultivation, though it is an attractive plant and grows well in a garden pond[28] or barrel. Its slower growth than most submerged species, attractive leaves and habit of producing a limited number of floating leaves make it very ornamental and suitable for garden ponds, and its smaller size than many other pondweeds is also a benefit. In common with other pondweeds of this group it roots poorly from stem cuttings and is best propagated by division of the rhizomes.


  1. ^ a b The Plant List: Potamogeton gramineus. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens. Accessed November 18, 2014
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ "Potamogeton gramineus". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Preston C.D. (1995). Pondweeds of Great Britain and Ireland. BSBI Handbook No. 8. Botanical Society of the British Isles, London.
  5. ^ Kaplan, Z. & Fehrer, J. (2011) Erroneous identities of Potamogeton hybrids corrected by molecular analysis of plants from type clones. Taxon, 60, 758-766.
  6. ^ Lindqvist C., De Laet J., Haynes R.R., Aagesen L., Keener B.R., Albert V.A. 2006. Molecular phylogenetics of an aquatic plant lineage, Potamogetonaceae. Cladistics, 22, 568-588.
  7. ^ a b c Naturhistorika riksmuseet (Sweden) Den virtuellen flora: gråsnate Potamogeton gramineus L., northern hemisphere range map
  8. ^ Guo Y., Haynes R.R., Hellquist C.B., Kaplan Z. 2010. Potamogeton. Flora of China, 23, 108-114. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200024699
  9. ^ a b United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service: Plants Profile for Potamogeton gramineus. Accessed 25 October 2014.
  10. ^ Goldsmith B, Salgado, J, Shilland, J, Yang, H & Turner, SD. 2014. Biodiversity Action Plan Lakes Survey 2012-14. NRW Evidence Report No: 27, 168pp, Natural Resources Wales, Bangor
  11. ^ a b Fortner S.L., White D.S. 1988. Interstitial water patterns: a factor influencing the distributions of some lotic aquatic vascular macrophytes. Aquatic Botany, 31, 1-12.
  12. ^ Rodríguez-Villafañe C., Bécares E., Fernández-Aláez M. 2007. Waterfowl grazing effects on submerged macrophytes in a shallow Mediterranean lake. Aquatic Botany,86,25-29.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Grulich V. 2012. Red List of vascular plants of the Czech Republic: 3rd edition. Preslia, 84, 631–645.
  16. ^ Bundesamt für Naturschutz: Potamogeton gramineus (in German)
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Moser D.M., Gygax A., Bäumler B., Wyler N., Palese R. 2002. Liste rouge des espèces menacées de Suisse. Fougères et plantes à fleurs. Ed. Office fédéral de l’environnement, des forêts et du paysage, Berne; Centre du Réseau Suisse de Floristique, Chambésy; Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Chambésy. Série OFEFP «L’environnement pratique». 118 pp.
  19. ^ Sparrius L.B., Odé B., Beringen R. 2014. Basisreport Rode Lijst Vaatplanten 2012 volgens Nederlandse en IUCN-criteria. FLORON Rapport 57. Floron, Nijmegen.
  20. ^ Fernández Aláez M., Fernández Aláez C., Rodríguez S. & Bécares C. (1992) Evaluation of the state of conservation of shallow lakes in the province of Leon (Northwest Spain) using botanical criteria. Limnetica, 17, 107-117
  21. ^ Wiegleb G., Brux H. & Herr W. 1991. Human impact on the ecological performance of Potamogeton species in northwestern Germany. Vegetatio , 97, 161-172.
  22. ^ UK Water Framework Directive Technical Advisory Group (UKTAG). 2014. UKTAG Lake Assessment Method: Macrophytes and Phytobenthos: Macrophytes (Lake LEAFPACS2). ISBN 978-1-906934-45-3. Available online at Lakes Leafpacs
  23. ^ UK Water Framework Directive Technical Advisory Group (UKTAG). 2014. UKTAG River Assessment Method: Macrophytes and Phytobenthos: Macrophytes (River LEAFPACS2). ISBN 978-1-906934-44-6. Available online at River Leafpacs
  24. ^ UK Water Framework Directive Technical Advisory Group (UKTAG). 2008. UKTAG River Assessment Method: Macrophytes and Phytobenthos: Macrophytes (Free Index). ISBN 978-1-906934-02-6. Available online at Lake Macrophytes Free Index
  25. ^ Roelofs J.G.M. 1983. Impact of acidification and eutrophication on macrophyte communities in soft waters in the Netherlands. I. Field Observations. Aquatic Botany, 17, 139-155.
  26. ^ "Joint Nature Conservation Committee: 3150 Natural Eutrophic Lakes". Retrieved 2014-10-19.
  27. ^ Environment & Heritage Service (Northern Ireland). 2005. Biodiversity Action Plan for Mesotrophic Lakes. Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Pondolive

External links[edit]