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Aponogeton distachyos - L.f.

Common Name Water Hawthorn, Cape pondweed
Family Aponogetonaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Pond margins in water 15 - 60cm deep[1].
Range S. Africa. Occasionally naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Half Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Aponogeton distachyos Water Hawthorn, Cape pondweed

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Aponogeton distachyos Water Hawthorn, Cape pondweed


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Physical Characteristics

Aponogeton distachyos is a PERENNIAL.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.



 Pond; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers;  Root;  Stem.
Edible Uses:

Tuber - roasted[17, 105]. Starchy[183]. Considered to be a great delicacy[2]. Flowering spike - pickled or used as a spinach or asparagus substitute[2, 17, 46, 166, 142, 177, 183]. The young shoots are used as an asparagus substitute[142, 177]. The flowers are used as a flavouring[56].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

A water plant, growing in water 15 - 60cm deep. it can also grow in wet soil but is then very restricted[56]. It requires a rich soil[56]. The tubers are not winter hardy[56]. Another report says that the plants are hardy in the milder areas of Britain[166]. They have withstood a fairly severe winter in Cornwall, when the ponds had thick ice 30cm or more deep, with very little damage[K]. A very ornamental plant[1], the flowers have a hawthorn-like scent[245].


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Seed - best sown in a pot as soon as it is ripe and kept emmersed in 3cm of water. The seed can also be stored in water and sown in spring[134]. It usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 20°c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in just covered in water in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division can be carried out at any time in the growing season, though mid to late spring is probably best. The divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Mr. Carl Gray   Sat Jan 14 2006

Thankyou to Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed, and to yourselfs for putting the article in your web pages. I found what I beleive are Aponogeton distachyos seeds floating in my pond around by the said plant. They are dark gree, with a reddish tinge in to one end and cucumber shap about 10mm long. I intend to try growing some of these seeds in pots submersed under 20cm of flowing pond water to see what happens. I live in Nuneaton (near Birmingham), England.

R.COOPER   Tue Jan 22 2008

Could you please tell me were i can obtain the above plant (Aponogeton distachyos) many thanks Cooper

David n   Fri Oct 31 2008

The "Oxford Companion to Food" states the leaves are edible(still I'd be a little suspicious even if it is "Oxford")He says this plant is the most esteemed wild food in the Cape province. He also says the bulb is edible but not highly prized like the flower buds.

Bruce Wellings   Fri Aug 14 2009

We have a natural spring fed pond which is now totally covered with Aponogeton distachyos. All efforts to remove by pulling up have failed due to the depth of the roots. The plants break off only to regeneraate vigorously. Can anyone recommend a method for controlling this plant? Perhaps a chemical that will not affect wildlife in the pond. We do not have fish in the pond.

david N   Sat Aug 15 2009

I know someone who was devastated when ducks ate (and killed) all their waterlillies, perhaps they'd do the same for Water Hawthorn, maybe there's some other creature that would eat it(aside from humans, I find them quite tasty, leaves included).

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