Scientific Name
Aponogeton distachyos L.f.
Higher Classification
Common Names
Cape Hawthorn (e), Cape Pondweed (e), Dog-with-two-tails (e), Vleikos (a), Waterblom (a), Waterblommetjie (a), Watereendjies (a), Waterlelie (a), Wateruintjie (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
H. Mtshali & L. von Staden
Aponogeton distachyos is a widespread and common species. Although there is ongoing decline in parts of its range, it is not suspected to be in danger of extinction.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape
This species is widespread across the Cape Floristic Region, from the Bokkeveld Escarpment at Nieuwoudtville southwards to the Cape Peninsula, and eastwards to the Baviaanskloof and Humansdorp district in the Eastern Cape.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
It is a floating aquatic plant in standing water, pools or slowly flowing streams and ditches.
Aponogeton distachyos, or waterblommetjie, is a traditional wild-gathered vegetable. The inflorescences are most commonly used (Van Wyk and Gericke 2000), but historically, corms were also eaten (Pemberton 2000). It was only recently domesticated and brought into cultivation as a commercial crop due to a combination of increasing demand and declining wild populations (Pemberton 2000). The species has declined significantly on the Cape lowlands, particularly the Cape Flats, due to habitat loss to urban expansion (Pemberton 2000). It is also sensitive to herbicide and pesticides, and has also disappeared in areas with high agricultural pollution (Pemberton 2000). It is not known what the current impact of wild harvesting is on this species. It is suspected that most commercially traded material is of cultivated origin, as harvesting is labour intensive, and domesticated plants provide better yields (Pemberton 2000), but more research is needed to confirm this. Establishment and management of artificial seasonal ponds for commercial cultivation may also cause loss and degradation of the habitat of wild Aponogeton distachyos, but currently no evidence exists that this threat is a major concern. There is ongoing habitat loss and degradation in parts of this species' range, predominantly due to urban and agricultural expansion, as well as water pollution. Invasive alien plants have also been noted in many recent field observations of wild populations.

Aponogeton distachyos is a widespread and common species. Based on recent field observations, it is estimated to persist at at least 100 locations. A continuing decline is inferred from ongoing habitat loss and degradation in parts of its range, but it is not known whether the rate of loss exceeds 30% in three generations.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Aponogeton distachyos L.f.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

Cook, C.D.K. 2004. Aquatic and wetland plants of southern Africa. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Manning, J.C. and Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: The Core Cape Flora. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Obermeyer, A.A. 1966. Aponogetonaceae. In: L.E. Codd, B. De Winter and H.B. Rycroft (eds). Flora of Southern Africa 1:85-92. Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria.

Pemberton, R.W. 2000. Waterblommetjie (Aponogeton distachyos, Aponogetonaceae), a recently domesticated aquatic food crop in Cape South Africa with unusual origins. Economic Botany 54(2):144-149.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Sieben, E.J.J. 2009. The status and distribution of vascular plants (Magnoliophyta, Lycophyta, Pteridophyta). In: W.R.T. Darwall, K.G. Smith, D. Tweddle and P. Skelton (eds.), The status and distribution of freshwater biodiversity in southern Africa (pp. 83-98), IUCN and SAIAB, Gland, Switzerland and Grahamstown, South Africa.

Van Bruggen, H.W.E. 1973. Revision of the genus Aponogeton (Aponogetonaceae): VI. - The species of Africa. Bulletin Du Jardin Botanique National De Belgique 43:193-233.

Van Bruggen, H.W.E. 1985. Monograph of the genus Aponogeton (Aponogetonaceae). Bibliotheca Botanica 137:1-76.

Van Wyk, B.E. and Gericke, N. 2000. People's Plants: A guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza, Pretoria.

Vlok, J. and Schutte-Vlok, A.L. 2010. Plants of the Klein Karoo. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.

Mtshali, H. & von Staden, L. 2017. Aponogeton distachyos L.f. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2021/10/19

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Distribution map

© D. Turner

© C. Merry

© J.H. Vlok/A.L. Schutte-Vlok

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