The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Najas minor
Najas minor
(brittle waternymph)

Copyright Info
Najas minor All.

Common name: brittle waternymph

Synonyms and Other Names: Caulinia minor (All.) Coss. & Germ., minor naiad, brittle water-nymph; brittle naiad, brittle-leaf naiad, European naiad, slender naiad, bushy naiad, lesser naiad

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo


Habit: Najas minor is an annual submersed rooted or floating plant (Haynes 1979).

Stem/Roots: Slender, branching stems and fibrous roots. Although its growth is usually compact and relatively bushy, the highly branched stems can grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in length and fragment easily (Haynes 1979).

Leaves: Opposite (paired), sometimes appearing whorled, and usually bunched at leaf axils. The leaves are typically stiff, curled and pointed, and have spines along the margins that are visible to the naked eye, if not a hand lens. Leaves are about 1 mm wide and 0.5 to 3.5 cm long (Haynes 1979).

Flowers: Reduced, imperfect flowers 1-2 per axil, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious) (Haynes 1979).

Fruit/Seeds: Slightly recurved, purplish, fusiform seeds with tiny pits wider than long around the girth (Haynes 1979).

Look-alikes: Other naiads (Najas spp.). Najas minor, with its mature leaves recurved, and its seed pits (areolae) arranged in longitudinal rows like the rungs of a ladder, is one of the more distinctive species of Najas (Meriläinen 1968). Proper identification without reproductive structures requires genetic testing due to morphological similarities to N. gracillima and N. marina (Les et al. 2015).

Size: up to 1.2 m in length (Haynes 1979)

Native Range: Najas minor is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa (Meriläinen 1968; Triest 1988).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Najas minor are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL1944202012Cahaba; Guntersville Lake; Lower Coosa; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Coosa; Middle Tallapoosa; Middle Tennessee-Elk; Middle Tombigbee-Chickasaw; Mobile-Tensaw; Pickwick Lake; Upper Coosa; Wheeler Lake
AR197920212Buffalo; Illinois
CA200320111San Francisco Bay
CT200420217Farmington River; Housatonic; Lower Hudson; Outlet Connecticut River; Quinnipiac; Saugatuck; Shetucket River
DE200120012Brandywine-Christina; Mid Atlantic Region
DC201620171Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan
FL1958201214Apalachicola; Blackwater; Kissimmee; Lower Chattahoochee; Lower Choctawhatchee; Lower Ochlockonee; Lower St. Johns; Oklawaha; Santa Fe; St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays; Upper St. Johns; Upper Suwannee; Withlacoochee; Yellow
GA1951199711Broad; Coosawattee; Etowah; Lower Flint; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Flint; Spring; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Ocmulgee; Upper Oconee; Upper Tallapoosa
ID200720071Pend Oreille Lake
IL1961201028Big Muddy; Cache; Des Plaines; Embarras; Flint-Henderson; Iroquois; Kaskaskia; La Moine; Little Calumet-Galien; Little Wabash; Lower Fox; Lower Illinois; Lower Ohio; Lower Ohio-Bay; Lower Wabash; Macoupin; Middle Kaskaskia; Middle Wabash-Busseron; Saline; Salt; Skillet; South Fork Sangamon; Upper Illinois; Upper Kaskaskia; Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau; Upper Mississippi-Kaskaskia-Meramec; Upper Mississippi-Meramec; Wabash
IN1957202012Highland-Pigeon; Lower East Fork White; Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon; Lower White; Middle Wabash-Busseron; Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion; Muscatatuck; Ohio Region; Patoka; Tippecanoe; Upper East Fork White; Upper White
IA2000201921Apple-Plum; Blackbird-Soldier; Boyer; Copperas-Duck; Grant-Little Maquoketa; Lake Red Rock; Little Sioux; Lower Des Moines; Lower Iowa; Lower Wapsipinicon; Maple; Middle Cedar; Middle Des Moines; Middle Iowa; Skunk; South Skunk; Thompson; Turkey; Upper Iowa; Upper Mississippi Region; Upper Mississippi-Skunk-Wapsipinicon
KS200720071Upper Neosho
KY1985202017Barren; Blue-Sinking; Green; Kentucky-Licking; Licking; Licking; Lower Cumberland; Lower Green; Lower Kentucky; Lower Levisa; Middle Ohio-Laughery; Middle Ohio-Raccoon; Ohio Brush-Whiteoak; Red; Salt; Upper Cumberland; Upper Kentucky
LA198020207Bayou D'Arbonne; Bayou Teche; Lower Mississippi Region; Lower Ouachita; Lower Ouachita; Lower Red-Ouachita; Tensas
ME200820151Piscataqua-Salmon Falls
MD1962202113Cacapon-Town; Chester-Sassafras; Conococheague-Opequon; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Lower Potomac; Lower Susquehanna; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Monocacy; North Branch Potomac; Patuxent; Upper Chesapeake; Youghiogheny
MA197420184Charles; Housatonic; Narragansett; Westfield River
MI194920227Clinton; Detroit; Huron; Kalamazoo; Lake Huron; Ottawa-Stony; Upper Grand
MN200120171Lower Minnesota
MS197920087Chunky-Okatibbee; Deer-Steele; Lower Leaf; Middle Pearl-Strong; Pearl; Pickwick Lake; Upper Tombigbee
MO197819995Lake of the Ozarks; Little River Ditches; Upper Mississippi-Meramec; Upper Mississippi-Salt; Upper White
NH199220215Black River-Connecticut River; Merrimack River; Nashua River; Piscataqua-Salmon Falls; West River-Connecticut River
NJ200020225Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Raritan; Rondout
NY1934202230Buffalo-Eighteenmile; Chautauqua-Conneaut; Chemung; Conewango; Grass; Great Lakes Region; Hackensack-Passaic; Hudson-Hoosic; Hudson-Wappinger; Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Champlain; Lake Ontario; Lower Genesee; Lower Hudson; Mettawee River; Middle Hudson; Mohawk; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Oneida; Oswego; Oswego; Raisin River-St. Lawrence River; Rondout; Sacandaga; Salmon-Sandy; Seneca; Southern Long Island; Upper Allegheny; Upper Genesee; Upper Hudson
NC196420196Albemarle; Haw; Roanoke Rapids; Upper Cape Fear; Upper Neuse; Waccamaw
OH1932202235Ashtabula-Chagrin; Auglaize; Black-Rocky; Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Grand; Hocking; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Licking; Little Miami; Little Muskingum-Middle Island; Little Scioto-Tygarts; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Maumee; Lower Scioto; Mahoning; Middle Ohio; Middle Ohio-Raccoon; Ohio Brush-Whiteoak; Paint; Raccoon-Symmes; Sandusky; Scioto; Southern Lake Erie; St. Joseph; Tiffin; Tuscarawas; Upper Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Upper Ohio; Upper Ohio-Beaver; Upper Ohio-Wheeling; Upper Scioto; Western Lake Erie; Wills
OK197919811Middle Washita
PA1951202225Brandywine-Christina; Chautauqua-Conneaut; Conemaugh; Connoquenessing; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; French; Kiskiminetas; Lake Erie; Lower Delaware; Lower Juniata; Lower Monongahela; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Penns; Middle Allegheny-Tionesta; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; North Branch Potomac; Potomac; Raystown; Schuylkill; Shenango; Upper Allegheny; Upper Juniata; Upper Ohio; Upper West Branch Susquehanna; Youghiogheny
SC196920118Cooper; Enoree; Lake Marion; Lower Savannah; Saluda; Santee; Upper Broad; Wateree
SD200620153Lewis and Clark Lake; Snake; Turtle
TN1944201614Cumberland; Hatchie-Obion; Holston; Kentucky Lake; Lower Cumberland; Lower Cumberland; Lower Little Tennessee; Lower Tennessee; Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga; Middle Tennessee-Hiwassee; Tennessee Region; Upper Cumberland; Upper Tennessee; Upper Tennessee
TX201020205Cedar; Chambers; Jim Ned; Lower Colorado-Cummins; Upper San Antonio
VT196019651Lake Champlain
VA198520209Appomattox; Lower James; Lower Potomac; Lower Rappahannock; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Roanoke Rapids; Upper Dan; Upper New; Upper Roanoke
WV197820229Little Kanawha; Lower Monongahela; Tygart Valley; Upper Guyandotte; Upper Monongahela; Upper Ohio; Upper Ohio-Shade; Upper Ohio-Wheeling; West Fork
WI200720175Des Plaines; Lake Michigan; Middle Rock; Upper Fox; Wolf

Table last updated 7/16/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Najas minor prefers stagnant or slow-moving waters, such as ponds, lakes, reservoirs, canals and is capable of growing in depths up to four meters (Meriläinen 1968). It is more tolerant of turbidity and eutrophic conditions than some of the native species of Najas and has replaced them in many instances (Wentz and Stuckey 1971).

Najas minor is water-pollinated (Triest 1988). Although this annual can reproduce by fragmentation, the primary means of reproduction appears to be by one-seeded fruits (Meriläinen 1968).

Populations of Najas spp. within reservoirs can fluctuate dramatically over a period of a few years and have been correlated with years of low rainfall and increased amounts of available light (Peltier and Welch 1970).

Means of Introduction: The vector of introduction of N. minor to North America is not clear. It could have been accidentally introduced with more commonly cultivated species, such as rice (McIntyre and Barrett 1985; Les and Mehrhoff 1999). Alternatively, it could have been introduced to the Great Lakes, the Hudson River, or upper Chesapeake Bay by shipping (Mills et al. 1993; Mills et al. 1997).

Najas minor spreads through its many small seeds, which may be carried by waterfowl (Meriläinen 1968; Agami and Waisel 1986), and can easily hitchhike to other water bodies on boats and boat trailers (Tarver et al. 1986).

Status: Established in all previously mentioned state occurrences.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


Najas minor can form dense, monospecific stands in shallow water that inhibit the growth of native species of aquatic macrophytes and hinder swimming, fishing, boating, and other forms of water contact recreation (U.S. EPA 2008). However, Capers et al. (2007) found that Najas minor was less likely to be present when native plant diversity was high, and Trebitz and Taylor (2007) found no evidence of dominance by Najas minor.

Remarks: Seven other species of Najas are reported by Haynes (1979) as occurring in the United States. Because several of the species are morphologically similar, identification of the various species can sometimes be difficult. Najas minor is easily confused with the other Najas species, slender water nymph (N. flexilis), common water nymph (N. guadalupensis) and northern naiad (N. gracillima). These species can be differentiated from N. minor by looking at the leaf bases and seeds.

References: (click for full references)

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Author: Pfingsten, I.A., L. Cao, and L. Berent

Revision Date: 8/19/2019

Citation Information:
Pfingsten, I.A., L. Cao, and L. Berent, 2024, Najas minor All.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1118, Revision Date: 8/19/2019, Access Date: 7/16/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/16/2024].

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