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Sheathed Pondweed (Stuckenia vaginata)

Life history

Species overview

Sheathed Pondweed (Stuckenia vaginata), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found in shallow water of lakes and creeks. Blooming occurs throughout July; fruiting occurs early August through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is throughout August.

Synonyms: Potamogeton vaginatus, Potamogeton interruptus, Coleogeton vaginatus


  • Distinguishing characteristics: The adnate stipule sheaths of this species make it unique among other Potamogetons in Wisconsin. Stuckenia species also have adnate stipule sheaths and appear similar to Potamogetons, but can be distinguished by the percentage of the sheath that is adnate. In Stuckenia sp. the sheath is adnate for 80 to 90% of its length. In Potamogeton vaginatus, the sheath is adnate for closer to 50% of its length.
  • Flower characteristics: Spike with 5 to 12 nearly equidistant whorls of flowers, 3 to 8 cm at maturity.
  • Fruit characteristics: 3 to 3.5 mm.
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaves 1 to 2 mm wide; stipular sheaths (at least of the primary leaves) adnate, subinflated, 2 to 3 times as thick as the stem, 2 to 5 cm, open to the base.


  • Blooming phenology: throughout July
  • Fruiting phenology: early August through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is throughout August


  • Growth form: Aquatic forb-submergent
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Potamogeton crispus, P. richardsonii, P. zosteriformis, Elodea canadensis, Hypericum boreale, Ranunculus longirostris, Vallisneria americana, Myriophyllum spp., Ceratophyllum demersum, Nymphaea odorata.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Sheathed Pondweed (Stuckenia vaginata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Stuckenia vaginata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in shallow water of lakes and creeks.
  • Soils:

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Sheathed Pondweed. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Submergent Marsh 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Sheathed Pondweed. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Southeast Glacial Plains 2

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Sheathed Pondweed Photo.

Photo ©  USDA-NRCS.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition