Cape pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos)
Photo by J.F. Gaffard

Cape pondweed

This plant grows well in the following regions:

  • SMSierra and Coastal Mountains
  • CVCentral Valley
  • DTDesert
  • NCNorth and Central Coast
  • SCSouth Coast
Map of regions (click to enlarge)
map of California regions


Cape pondweed is a submerged perennial with simple, floating leaves and small white flowers held just above the surface. It is native to South Africa. Its flowers are abundant when this plant is in bloom and are also fragrant. Grow in water 30-90 centimeters deep in full sun or partial shade. It can be propagated by seed or by rhizome division in spring. The rhizomes can be difficult to divide, so seed propagation is easier. In South Africa, it is commercially grown for the edible tubers that may be added to stews.

When grown in warm winter climates (USDA Zones 9-10) it will flower from fall to spring but go dormant in the heat of the summer. In colder climates it will die back in early winter or must be brought indoors.

This plant has naturalized in parts of San Diego County, so it is important to be cautious about the spreading of plant material. Never dump aquatic plants in a river, stream, lake, or other such body of water.

Sun needs:

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun

Water needs:

  • High water
Water needs information from WUCOLS unless otherwise noted