Common Waterweed (Elodea canadensis)

Other Names: Elodea, Frog-bit, Canadian Pondweed

Plant Family: Frog’s-bit, Hrdrocharitaceae

Wetland Indicator Status: OBL

Elodea is a very common submergent aquatic plant found in a variety of habitats in shallow water.  In quiet water, Elodea produces tiny floating white flowers from long, thin stalks.  Like most aquatic vegetation sexual reproduction is uncommon and most reproduction occurs when plants fragment, drift to new locations, and later become rooted.  Because it produces little seed it is of lesser value to wildlife, but like coontail it is abundantly colonized by a myriad of aquatic invertebrates relished by ducks and game fish.

Common Waterweed, Elodea canadensis
Common Waterweed, Elodea canadensis, growing wild.

Often in the United States, we think of aquatic invasive species coming from Asia and Europe, but Elodea is one of our exports to Europe over 150 years ago, where it spread rapidly and became a problem.  It is an example of the importance of preventing the importation of potentially invasive species, but it is equally important to prevent the export of potentially invasive native plants abroad.  Elodea, like Coontail, can behave aggressively in disturbed, nutrient polluted waters even in its home range.