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.

Potamogeton crispus
Potamogeton crispus
(curly-leaf pondweed)

Copyright Info
Potamogeton crispus L.

Common name: curly-leaf pondweed

Synonyms and Other Names: [Curly, curly-leaved, crispy-leaved, crisped] pondweed

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Potamogeton crispus grows entirely as a submersed aquatic plant with no floating leaves.  Leaves are alternate, 4-10 cm in length and 5-10 mm wide.  Leaves are conspicuously toothed along leaf margins, sessile (attached directly to the stem), narrowly oblong, undulate (wavy like lasagna noodles) with a conspicuous mid-vein.  Leaf tips are obtuse (rounded or blunt), olive-green to reddish-brown, and somewhat translucent. Stems are flattened, channeled, with few branches.  Rhizomes are pale yellow or reddish, rooting at the nodes.  Small flowers (3 mm wide), with greenish-brown or greenish-red sepals form on a terminal spike above the waterline producing 3-4 achenes (fruits) per flower.

The unique seasonal phenology of P. crispus differentiates the species from other submersed aquatic plants found in North American waters.  In the colder regions of its range, turions (the primary reproductive propagule) break dormancy in the fall when water temperatures drop (Nichols and Shaw 1986). P. crispus survives the winter as whole, intact leafy plants (even under thick ice and snow cover) (Stuckey et al. 1978), then grow rapidly in early spring when water temperatures are still quite cool (10-15°C).  In early June plants flower, fruit, and form turions, and then plants senesce by mid-July (Tobiessen and Snow 1983) in most areas of its range.  The winter growth form of P. crispus is morphologically different from its spring or summer growth form, with leaves that are flattened, narrow, and blue-green in color with few stems and thin rhizomes (Tobiessen and Snow 1983).

Size: up to 5 meters in length (Holm et al. 1997)

Native Range: Eurasia, Africa, and Australia (Catling and Dobson 1985)

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 Potamogeton crispus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL194320175Guntersville Lake; Middle Alabama; Middle Tennessee-Elk; Mobile-Tensaw; Pickwick Lake
AZ195719653Big Chino-Williamson Valley; Upper Little Colorado; Upper Verde
AR198820193Beaver Reservoir; Illinois; Little Red
CA1896202246Antelope-Fremont Valleys; Battle Creek; Big Chico Creek-Sacramento River; Butte Creek; Central Coastal; Clear Creek-Sacramento River; Coyote; East Branch North Fork Feather; Gualala-Salmon; Imperial Reservoir; Lake Tahoe; Los Angeles; Lower Klamath; Lower Pit; Lower Sacramento; Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi-Grapevine; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; Mojave; Newport Bay; North Fork Feather; Owens Lake; Paynes Creek-Sacramento River; Russian; Sacramento; Sacramento Headwaters; Sacramento-Stone Corral; Salton Sea; San Diego; San Francisco Bay; San Gabriel; San Jacinto; San Joaquin Delta; San Pedro Channel Islands; Santa Ana; Santa Barbara Coastal; South Fork Eel; South Fork Kern; Southern Mojave; Suisun Bay; Thomes Creek-Sacramento River; Trinity; Upper Klamath; Upper Mokelumne; Upper Putah; Upper Stanislaus; Upper Tuolumne
CO195220093Lower Yampa; Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek; Upper South Platte
CT194320227Farmington River; Housatonic; Lower Hudson; Outlet Connecticut River; Quinnipiac; Saugatuck; Shetucket River
FL193720023Chipola; Lake Okeechobee; Upper St. Johns
GA194720124Lower Flint; Spring; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Oconee
ID1973201811Bear Lake; C.J. Strike Reservoir; Coeur d'Alene Lake; Idaho Falls; Lower Bear-Malad; Lower Clark Fork; Middle Snake; Payette; Pend Oreille Lake; Priest; St. Joe
IL1911201332Big Muddy; Cache; Chicago; Des Plaines; Embarras; Kankakee; Kaskaskia; Kishwaukee; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower Fox; Lower Illinois; Lower Illinois; Lower Illinois-Lake Chautauqua; Lower Ohio; Lower Ohio-Bay; Lower Rock; Mackinaw; Macoupin; Peruque-Piasa; Pike-Root; Rock; Saline; Sugar; Sugar; Upper Fox; Upper Illinois; Upper Kaskaskia; Upper Mississippi; Upper Mississippi Region; Upper Mississippi-Meramec; Upper Mississippi-Skunk-Wapsipinicon; Wabash
IN1913202214Blue-Sinking; Highland-Pigeon; Iroquois; Kankakee; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower East Fork White; Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon; Lower White; Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion; Muscatatuck; St. Joseph; St. Joseph; Tippecanoe; Wabash
IA194420237Apple-Plum; Coon-Yellow; Copperas-Duck; Little Sioux; Lower Iowa; Middle Iowa; Missouri-Little Sioux
KS1955201516Delaware; Independence-Sugar; Ladder; Lower Big Blue; Lower Kansas, Kansas; Lower Marais Des Cygnes; Lower Smoky Hill; Medicine Lodge; Middle Kansas; Solomon; South Fork Ninnescah; Spring; Tarkio-Wolf; Upper Cimarron-Bluff; Upper Smoky Hill; Upper Verdigris
KY1973201510Highland-Pigeon; Kentucky; Little Scioto-Tygarts; Lower Kentucky; Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon; Middle Ohio-Laughery; Obey; Ohio Brush-Whiteoak; Rolling Fork; Salt
LA194920191Eastern Louisiana Coastal
ME200320092Piscataqua-Salmon Falls; Saco River
MD187720208Chester-Sassafras; Conococheague-Opequon; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Lower Susquehanna; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Patuxent; Youghiogheny
MA1908202010Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Blackstone River; Charles; Concord River; Deerfield River; Housatonic; Hudson-Hoosic; Merrimack River; Narragansett; Outlet Connecticut River
MI1910202249Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Black-Macatawa; Boardman-Charlevoix; Brule; Cheboygan; Clinton; Detroit; Escanaba; Flint; Great Lakes Region; Huron; Kalamazoo; Kawkawlin-Pine; Keweenaw Peninsula; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Lake St. Clair; Lake Superior; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower Grand; Manistee; Maple; Menominee; Millecoquins Lake-Brevoort River; Muskegon; Northeastern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Huron; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Ontonagon; Ottawa-Stony; Pere Marquette-White; Pigeon-Wiscoggin; Raisin; Saginaw; Shiawassee; Southeastern Lake Michigan; St. Clair; St. Clair-Detroit; St. Joseph; St. Marys; Tacoosh-Whitefish; Thornapple; Thunder Bay; Tiffin; Upper Grand; Upper Wisconsin; Western Lake Erie
MN1901202362Baptism-Brule; Big Fork; Blue Earth; Bois De Sioux; Buffalo; Buffalo-Whitewater; Cannon; Chippewa; Clearwater; Clearwater-Elk; Cloquet; Coon-Yellow; Cottonwood; Crow; Crow Wing; Elk-Nokasippi; Hawk-Yellow Medicine; Iowa; Kettle; La Crosse-Pine; Lake Superior; Le Sueur; Leech Lake; Little Fork; Little Sioux; Long Prairie; Lower Minnesota; Lower Red; Lower St. Croix; Middle Minnesota; Minnesota; Mississippi Headwaters; Mississippi Headwaters; Mustinka; Otter Tail; Pine; Platte-Spunk; Pomme De Terre; Prairie-Willow; Rainy Headwaters; Rainy Lake; Redeye; Redwood; Root; Roseau; Rum; Rush-Vermillion; Sandhill-Wilson; Sauk; Snake; South Fork Crow; St. Louis; Thief; Twin Cities; Upper Minnesota; Upper Mississippi-Black-Root; Upper Mississippi-Crow-Rum; Upper Red; Upper St. Croix; Watonwan; Winnebago; Zumbro
MS197920122Tibbee; Town
MO1903202211Big; Eleven Point; Lower Chariton; Lower Gasconade; Lower Missouri; Lower Missouri-Moreau; Meramec; Missouri Region; Spring; Upper Mississippi-Salt; Upper White
MT1977202210Bitterroot; Bullwhacker-Dog; Fort Peck Reservoir; Gallatin; Lower Clark Fork; Lower Flathead; Madison; Missouri Region; Smith; Stillwater
NE196420157Lewis and Clark Lake; Loup; Lower Platte; Middle Niobrara; Middle North Platte-Scotts Bluff; Missouri; Missouri-Nishnabotna
NH198420077Ashuelot River-Connecticut River; Black River-Connecticut River; Merrimack River; Nashua River; Piscataqua-Salmon Falls; West River-Connecticut River; Winnipesaukee River
NJ186620206Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Mid-Atlantic Region; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Raritan; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
NM194519811Rio Grande-Albuquerque
NY1879202250Ausable River; Bronx; Buffalo-Eighteenmile; Cattaraugus; Chateaugay-English; Chaumont-Perch; Chautauqua-Conneaut; Chemung; Chenango; Conewango; Hackensack-Passaic; Headwaters St. Lawrence River; Housatonic; Hudson-Hoosic; Hudson-Wappinger; Indian; Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Champlain; Lake Erie; Lake Ontario; Long Island; Lower Genesee; Lower Hudson; Lower Hudson; Mettawee River; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Middle Hudson; Mohawk; Niagara River; Northeastern Lake Ontario; Oak Orchard-Twelvemile; Oneida; Oswegatchie; Richelieu; Rondout; Sacandaga; Salmon-Sandy; Sandy Hook-Staten Island; Saranac River; Saugatuck; Schoharie; Seneca; Southern Long Island; St. Lawrence; Tioga; Upper Allegheny; Upper Delaware; Upper Genesee; Upper Hudson; Upper Susquehanna
NC195019683Albemarle-Chowan; Upper Catawba; Upper Pee Dee
ND197520094Lake Sakakawea; Lower Sheyenne; Painted Woods-Square Butte; Willow
OH1910202425Ashtabula-Chagrin; Auglaize; Black-Rocky; Cedar-Portage; Cuyahoga; Hocking; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Licking; Little Miami; Little Muskingum-Middle Island; Mahoning; Middle Ohio-Raccoon; Ohio Brush-Whiteoak; Paint; Raccoon-Symmes; Sandusky; Shenango; St. Marys; Tuscarawas; Upper Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Upper Ohio; Upper Scioto; Walhonding; Wills
OK193619858Bois D'arc-Island; Cache; Illinois; Lake Texoma; Lower Canadian-Deer; Lower Canadian-Walnut; Lower Washita; Neosho
OR1947202029Applegate; Coast Fork Willamette; Coos; Lost; Lower Columbia; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Crooked; Lower Deschutes; Lower Owyhee; Lower Rogue; Lower Willamette; Mckenzie; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Middle Owyhee; Middle Rogue; Middle Willamette; Oregon closed basins; Siuslaw; South Santiam; Summer Lake; Tualatin; Umatilla; Umpqua; Upper Deschutes; Upper Klamath; Upper Rogue; Upper Willamette
PA1861202338Allegheny; Bald Eagle; Brandywine-Christina; Chester-Sassafras; Clarion; Conemaugh; Connoquenessing; Conococheague-Opequon; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; French; Kiskiminetas; Lake Erie; Lehigh; Lower Allegheny; Lower Delaware; Lower Delaware; Lower Juniata; Lower Monongahela; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Penns; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Mahoning; Middle Allegheny-Tionesta; Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Middle West Branch Susquehanna; Raystown; Schuylkill; Shenango; Upper Allegheny; Upper Delaware; Upper Juniata; Upper Ohio; Upper Susquehanna; Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna; Upper Susquehanna-Tunkhannock; Youghiogheny
RI193220152Massachusetts-Rhode Island Coastal; Narragansett
SC199719972Cooper; Wateree
SD1965201813Angostura Reservoir; Bois De Sioux; Fort Randall Reservoir; Lewis and Clark Lake; Lewis and Clark Lake; Lower James; Lower Lake Oahe; Middle Big Sioux; Middle Cheyenne-Spring; Ponca; Rapid; Upper James; Upper Minnesota
TN1946201713French Broad-Holston; Kentucky Lake; Lower Clinch; Lower Cumberland; Lower Cumberland-Sycamore; Lower Mississippi-Memphis; Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga; Obion; South Fork Holston; Tennessee Region; Upper Tennessee; Watauga, North Carolina, Tennessee; Watts Bar Lake
TX194320219Austin-Travis Lakes; Bois D'arc-Island; Buchanan-Lyndon B. Johnson Lakes; Lake Texoma; Lower Frio; Lower Guadalupe; San Marcos; Tierra Blanca; Upper Trinity
UT193720226Jordan; Lower Bear; Lower Weber; Provo; Upper Bear; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir
VT191120204Black River-Connecticut River; Lake Champlain; Mettawee River; West River-Connecticut River
VA1874200216Conococheague-Opequon; French Broad-Holston; Lower Chesapeake; Lower James; Lower Potomac; Maury; Middle New; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; North Fork Shenandoah; Roanoke; Shenandoah; Upper Clinch, Tennessee, Virginia; Upper James; Upper New; Upper Roanoke; Upper Tennessee
WA1947202243Banks Lake; Chief Joseph; Colville; Crescent-Hoko; Deschutes; Dungeness-Elwha; Duwamish; Hangman; Kettle; Lake Washington; Little Spokane; Lower Columbia; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Cowlitz; Lower Crab; Lower Skagit; Lower Snake; Lower Snake-Tucannon; Lower Spokane; Lower Yakima; Methow; Middle Columbia-Hood; Middle Columbia-Lake Wallula; Naches; Nisqually; Nooksack; Okanogan; Palouse; Pend Oreille; Puget Sound; Puyallup; Rock; Snohomish; Snoqualmie; Stillaguamish; Upper Chehalis; Upper Columbia-Entiat; Upper Columbia-Priest Rapids; Upper Crab; Upper Spokane; Upper Yakima; Wenatchee
WV193020156Greenbrier; Little Kanawha; Potomac; Shenandoah; Upper Ohio-Shade; Upper Ohio-Wheeling
WI1905202258Apple-Plum; Bad-Montreal; Baraboo; Beartrap-Nemadji; Black; Black-Presque Isle; Brule; Buffalo-Whitewater; Castle Rock; Chippewa; Coon-Yellow; Des Plaines; Door-Kewaunee; Duck-Pensaukee; Eau Claire; Flambeau; Fox; Grant-Little Maquoketa; Jump; Kickapoo; La Crosse-Pine; Lake Dubay; Lake Michigan; Lake Superior; Lake Winnebago; Lower Chippewa; Lower Fox; Lower Rock; Lower St. Croix; Lower Wisconsin; Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Menominee; Middle Rock; Milwaukee; Namekagon; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Oconto; Ontonagon; Pecatonica; Peshtigo; Pike-Root; Red Cedar; Rock; Rush-Vermillion; South Fork Flambeau; St. Croix; St. Louis; Sugar; Trempealeau; Upper Chippewa; Upper Fox; Upper Fox; Upper Mississippi Region; Upper Rock; Upper St. Croix; Upper Wisconsin; Wisconsin; Wolf
WY197920217Clear; Lower Wind; New Fork; Pathfinder-Seminoe Reservoirs; Shoshone; Upper Belle Fourche; Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Table last updated 4/20/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Potamogeton crispus can survive and grow at very low light levels (less than 1% of the surface irradiance) and low water temperatures (1-4°C) (Stuckey et al. 1978; Tobiessen and Snow 1983).  As such, the plant thrives in “polluted waters” with low light penetration.  P. crispus is often found growing in the deepest vascular plant zone and, in waters with higher light penetration, can be found in 5-7 meter depth contours (Tobiessen and Snow 1983).  P. crispus survives under the ice throughout the winter, then exhibits rapid growth in the spring when water temperatures rise above 10°C at a growth rate of 8-10 cm/day (Tobiessen and Snow 1983), allows P. crispus to exploit the warming waters before other aquatic plants begin to grow.

Germination of seeds is not well understood, but not considered to be the primary means of reproduction (Catling and Dobson 1985; Godfrey and Wooten 1981; Nichols and Shaw 1986).

Although examination for P. crispus hybridization has been limited, two hybrids exist globally, and one hybrid is known to exist in North America.  The hybrid Potamogeton crispus x P. praelongus (= P. x undulatus Wolfgang ex Schultes & Schultes f.) has been confirmed from a northeastern Indiana lake (Alix and Scribailo 2006).  Potamogeton x cooperi (Fryer) Fryer, a hybrid between P. crispus and P. perfoliatus, was found in Europe (Kaplan and Fehrer 2004). Both P. crispus and P. perfoliatus are found in the Great Lakes, but P. x cooperi has yet to be discovered in North America.

In waters too turbid to support other submersed macrophytes, P. crispus may provide ecosystem benefits for fish and wildlife habitat and a source of macroinvertebrate food organisms.  Several species of dabbling ducks are known to eat P. crispus seeds and turions (Hunt and Lutz 1959).

Means of Introduction: The species has spread across much of the United States, presumably by migrating waterfowl, intentional planting for waterfowl and wildlife habitat, and possibly even as a contaminant in water used to transport fishes and fish eggs to hatcheries (Stuckey 1979). According to Balgie et al. (2010), P. crispus can also spread by plant fragments attached to boats and equipment that are not properly cleaned.

Status: Established in all of the continental United States and Ontario in Canada.

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


Potamogeton crispus can outcompete native species for light and space early in the growing season; often reducing plant diversity and altering predator/prey relationship (ENSR International 2005; WI DNR 2012). P. crispus can provide habitat for aquatic life in the winter and early spring when native plants are not present (IL DNR 2005). Populations provide habitat for macroinvertbrates and fish, including spawning substrate (Catling and Dobson 1985; ENSR International 2005; GLC 2006; Lembi 2003). Aqueous extracts of P. crispus demonstrated antimicrobial activity against 17 different microorganisms including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (Fareed et al. 2008).

Large infestations of P. crispus can impede water flow and cause stagnant water conditions (Catling and Dobson 1985; ENSR International 2005; Lui et al. 2010). A large amount of phosphorus is released during decomposition, which can lead to eutrophication and algal blooms (Benson et al. 2004; WI DNR 2012), and oxygen concentration in the water can drop significantly, impacting fish (IPANE 2013; Lui et al. 2010). P. crispus has been shown to remove organic contaminants such as dibutyl phthalate and phthalic acid esters (Chi and Cai 2012; Chi and Yang 2012), and inorganics such as cerium, cobalt, cesium, cadmium, and their isotopes (Hafez et al. 1992; Sivaci et al. 2008).

Surface mats of P. crispus can inhibit aquatic recreation, such as boating, fishing, and swimming, and reduce the aesthetic value of waterfront property (IL DNR 2009; Jensen 2009; WI DNR 2012). Expensive control programs are often needed to reduce the impacts on recreational activities and to maintain waterfront property values (IL DNR 2005). Waterfront property owners in Michigan spend an estimated $20 million annually to control aquatic invasive plants—primarily Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed (MSGCP 2007).

References: (click for full references)

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

Revision Date: 8/30/2023

Peer Review Date: 2/9/2016

Citation Information:
Thayer, D.D., I.A. Pfingsten, L. Cao, and L. Berent., 2024, Potamogeton crispus L.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=1134, Revision Date: 8/30/2023, Peer Review Date: 2/9/2016, Access Date: 4/20/2024

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/20/2024].

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