Scientific name

Aponogeton L.

Common names

lace plant



Could be confused with

Crinum, Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus, Ottelia, Potamogeton

Native distribution

tropical and subtropical Africa, Madagascar, Asia, Australia

Species commonly cultivated

Aponogeton boivinianus Baill. (Madagascar)

A. capuronii H. Bruggen (Madagascar)

A. crispus Thunb. (Sri Lanka)

A. distachyos Linn. f. (Africa)

A. elongatus F. Muell. (Australia)

A. longiplumulosus van Bruggen (Madagascar)

A. madagascariensis (Mirbel) van Bruggen (Madagascar, Mauritius) (A. fenestralis Hooker)

A. rigidifolius H. Bruggen (Sri Lanka)

A. ulvaceus Baker (Madagascar)

A. undulatus Roxb. (Southeast Asia) (A. stachyosporus de Wit)

A. vanbruggenii Hellquist & Jacobs (eastern Australia)

Adventive distribution

Aponogeton distachyos is introduced into parts of eastern Australia, while A. madagascariensis is established in Mauritius.

Weed status

not considered weedy


submerged bulb plant with floating and rarely erect leaves (in at least one species)

Brief description

Stem tuberous or rhizomatous. Leaves submerged and/or floating, rarely emersed, in a rosette, with or without petiole; leaf blade usually very long, linear to oblong or elliptic, sometimes wavy, bullate or fenestrate. Flowers borne on elongate, single or forked spike above water level; immature spike enveloped by a sheath-like spathe which falls off as inflorescence opens. Flowers few to numerous, unisexual or bisexual, small, white, yellow, pink or purple, with 2 petals and no sepals.

Natural habitat

typically found in still or running waters, mostly riverine

Additional comments

This distinctive genus of obligate aquatic plants is represented by ca. 45 species in the Old World and is the only member of the family Aponogetonaceae. About a dozen species are commonly cultivated or harvested from the wild for sale in the aquarium hobby, although numerous other species are occasionally traded. Species of Aponogeton naturally undergo an annual resting cycle in which the leaves die back in the cool season, only to be replaced by fresh growth in the warm season. In Madagascar, Australia, and Sri Lanka some species are threatened by over-collecting for the aquarium trade.