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© Etienne Branquart, Belgian Biodiversity Platform
© Klaus van de Weyer, Lanaplan
Elodea nuttallii - Nuttall's waterweed

French name:  Elodée de nuttall
Dutch name: Smalle waterpest
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: North America
Habitat: freshwater
Introduction:  aquariums and ponds
ISEIA Score : 12
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1939
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: widespread
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: high
More on invasiveness: Elodea nuttallii thrives in various types of freshwater habitats, from still to slow-flowing systems and from very shallow to deep waters. It is very tolerant to water pollution and prefers warm eutrophic and calcareous waters; it is often found in species poor macrophyte communities.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
freshwater habitats: 313031503260
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: high
Disease transmission: low
Genetic effects: low
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: high
Physical alteration: high
Natural successions: high
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: As observed for all non-native Hydrocharitaceae species, this submerged perennial aquatic plant makes dense monospecific populations which often colonise all of water bodies, restrict water movement, cut off light, produce anoxic conditions and trap sediments in the system. Plant decomposition at the end of the growing season typically induces a secondary eutrophication leading to the accumulation of endproducts toxic to many plants. Due to quick nutrient uptake and very high growth rate, Nuttall's waterweed has been reported to outcompete several native aquatic plants like Myriophyllum and Potamogeton spp. Dense beds provide a poor habitat for aquatic animals and are not consumed by fish. They interfere with recreation activities and increase the risk of adjacent land flooding. This plant is in strong extension in Western Europe; it has replaced Elodea canadensis at many sites due to increased eutrophication and is being replaced by Lagarosiphon major in turn.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Stiers Iris, Triest Ludwig, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verloove Filip
Published on:  22 November 2007
Last update:  20 June 2019
Barrat-Segretain, M.H. (2005)
Competition between invasive and indigenous species: impact of spatial pattern and developmental stage.
Plant Ecology 180(2):153-160.
Barrat-Segretain, M.H. (2004)
Growth of Elodea canadensis and E. nuttallii in monocultures and mixture under different light and nutrient conditions.
Arch. Hydrobiol. 161: 133-144.
CPS-SKEW (2006)
Elodea canadensis & Elodea nuttallii
From online fact sheets of the Swiss Commission for Wild Plants Conservation
Centre for Aquatic Plant Management (2004)
Information sheet 25: Elodea nuttallii
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Denys, L., Packet, J. & Van Landuyt, W. (2004)
Neofyten in het Vlaamse water : signalement van vaste waarden en rijzende sterren.
Natuur.focus 3(4): 120128.
Di Nino F., Thiébaut G. & Muller S. (2005)
Response of Elodea nuttallii to manual harvesting in the North-East of France.
Hydrobiologia 551: 147-157.
Erhard, D. & Gross, E.M. (2006)
Allelopathic activity of Elodea canadensis and Elodea nuttallii against epiphytes and phytoplankton.
Aquatic Botany 85: 203-211.
James C., Eaton J.W. & Hardwick K. (1998)
Competition between three submerged macrophytes Elodea canadensis, Elodea nuttallii and Lagarosiphon major.
In: A.T. Monteiro et al. (Eds), Proceedings of the 10th EWRS International Symposium on Aquatic Weeds: 79-82.
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
Nouvelle fore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines.
Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Larson, D. & Willen, E. (2007)
The relationship between biodiversity and invasibility in central Swedish lakes invaded by Elodea species.
In: F. Gherardi (Ed.), Biological invaders in inland waters: profiles, distribution and threats, Springer: 423-433.
Muller, S. (2004)
Plantes invasives en France : état des connaissances et propositions d'actions.
Publication scientifique du Museum d'Histoire naturelle, Patrimoines naturels n°62.
Thiébaut, G. (2005)
Does competition for phosphate supply explain the invasion pattern of Elodea species?
Water research 39: 3385-3393.
Thiébaut, G. (2007)
Non-indigenous aquatic and semiaquatic plant species in France.
In: F. Gherardi (Ed.), Biological invaders in inland waters: profiles, distribution and threats, Springer: 209-229.
Toussaint, B. & Bedouet, F. (2005)
Les espèces végétales invasives des milieux aquatiques et humides du bassin Artois-Picardie.
Agence de l'Eau Artois-Picardie, 38 pp.
Van Landuyt, W., Hoste, I., Vanhecke, L., Van den Bremt, P. Vercruysse, W. & De Beer, D. (2006)
Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest.
Nationale Plantentuin en het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek i.s.m. Flo.Wer vzw.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.
Wittenberg, R. (2005)
An inventory of alien species and their threat to biodiversity and economy in Switzerland.
CABI Bioscience Switzerland Centre report to the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape. The environment in practice no. 0629: 155p.
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