Scientific name

Cabomba Aubl.

Common names

cabomba, fanwort



Native distribution

North and South America, originally native to South America

Species commonly cultivated

Cabomba aquatica Aubl. (South America)

C. caroliniana A. Gray var. caroliniana A. Gray (America, Asia, Australia)

C. caroliniana A. Gray var. pulcherrima R.M. Harper (southeastern North America)

C. furcata Schult. and Schult. (C. piauhyensis Gardner) (Central and South America)

C. haynesii Wiersema (Central America)

C. palaeformis Fassett (Central America)

Adventive distribution

Cabomba caroliniana is presumably naturalized in North America. Cabomba caroliniana var. caroliniana is already established in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, and India, and is expected to extend this range to other countries.

Weed status

Cabomba caroliniana is an aggressive weed throughout much of its adventive range. In Australia Cabomba is a declared noxious weed where it is illegal to keep or sell plants and all plant material must be destroyed.


submerged stem plant, attached to substrate

Brief description

Perennial. Multiple, thin stems arise from a single root mass, and a horizontal ‘stoloniferous’ stem. Leaves heterophyllous; submerged leaves usually opposite and proximately decussate (3 whorled leaves in C. furcata), petiolate; leaf blade finely dichotomously and trichotomously dissected; floating leaves produced in association with flowers, peltate, elliptic to ovate. Flowers axillary, solitary, produced on long pedicel and opening above water surface, bisexual; perianth of 6 tepals in 2 whorls of 3 (sometimes only 2 in each in C. aquatica), white to yellow or purplish-pink.

Natural habitat

typically found in still waters up to several meters in depth (deep rivers, lakes, and water impoundments)

Additional comments

This genus is closely related to Brasenia. Species of Cabomba are typically rapidly growing plants that quickly out-compete other species. A high degree of allelopathic chemicals (phenolics and alkaloids) in the plant tissues results in relatively few predators. Cultivated submersed in large ponds. The taxonomy of this genus has been confused due to the high degree of leaf color and morphological variation with differing environmental conditions found in some species.