Nuttalls waterweed

Elodea nuttallii


Photo credit: ©Robert Videki

Habitat: E. nutallii is most common in calcareous waters and eutrophic waters because it has a high tissue demand for both phosphorus and nitrogen.

Similar Species: Elodea canadensis

Description: Elodea nuttallii originated from North America. This species is very similar to another invasive specie know as Elodea canadensis (Canadian waterweed). Both species grow in still or slow flowing eutrophic waters but Elodea nuttallii has replaced E. canadensis at many sites possibly due to increased eutrophication. This is an aquatic weed that grows rapidly towards the surface of eutrophic freshwater systems without branching where they form a densely branched canopy. E. nuttalli is perennial and over winters in Ireland as horizontal shoots which regenerate new lateral shoots as the temperature reaches 6-8°C.

Origin and Distribution: This species is native to North America but is now invasive in Britain where it is common.

Impacts: E. nuttallii tends to dominate native macrophyte communities which may lead to there local extinction. Impacts have also been recorded on invertebrate communities. This species may also have a significant impact on protected sites. E. nuttallii is also known to replace other invasive species as the dominant species in an impacted ecosystem. More recently data from Britain suggests that this species is now becoming replaced by Largarosiphon major.

How did it get here? Traded as a garden plant.

Is it found in Ireland or Northern Ireland? This species now occurs in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

More information can be found at NBDC and NBN Atlas NI.

 Static Distribution Map as of December 2019 - Courtesy of CEDaR

Prevent Spread


  • Promote native species and biodiversity - use alternative, native plants
  • Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants
  • Do not swap plants and cuttings
  • Clean plants before adding to ponds (dispose of water away from water courses)
  • Follow control advice and watch out for hitchhikers - inspect new imported purchases for invasive pest and pathogens
  • Clean equipment before moving between waterbodies
  • Never collect plants from the wild
  • Safe disposal of plant material and growing media

Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2017)  This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.  For further queries, you can contact the Non Native Invasive Species Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558.
Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland