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PlantFiles: Fanwort, Washington Grass, Fish Grass
Cabomba caroliniana

Family: Cabombaceae
Genus: Cabomba (kuh-BOM-buh) (Info)
Species: caroliniana (kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Cabomba caroliniana var. caroliniana

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ponds and Aquatics

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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to view:

By htop
Thumbnail #1 of Cabomba caroliniana by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #2 of Cabomba caroliniana by htop


No positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral frostweed On Feb 15, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Fanwort, Washington Grass, Fish Grass Cabomba caroliniana is Native to Texas and other States.

Neutral htop On Jul 21, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I haven't grown this plant so I am unable to rate it.

Cabomba caroliniana is common aquatic perennial found in the southeastern United States as well as some parts of South America. It occurs from Texas to Florida, north to New England (where it can be found in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire) and west to Kansas. It is also present in Oregon and Washington. It grows so aggressively in some regons that it has been declared a noxious, invasive weed ... see list below). It has become extremely invasive in other parts of the world including Japan, Australia and India. It spreads mainly by stem fragments or rhizomes. The species forms large colonies as floating shoots and new rhizomes arise as axillary branches. These are fragile and easily broken which causes the plant to spread even more. Because it forms extremely dense stands, Cabomba caroliniana can clog drainage systems as well as interfere with recreational activities such as swimming and boating. Being sold in the aquarium trade, it is often discarded in local bodies of water.

It is an oxygenator with bright green, feathery, fan-shaped leaves which lie just under the water surface. It has a height of about 1/4 of a foot and its width is between 1 to 6.5 feet. Fanwort will grow in only full sun. The petioled, submersed leaves are opposite, and sometimes whorled, peltate in form, and are 0.75 - 2 inches in width. These leaves are repeatedly divided into filament-like segments. The small floating leaves which are few in number are 0.25-0.75 inches long amd have a linear-elliptic shape. Having entire margins, they often have a basal notch. The stems can be up to 6.5 feet long. This plant grows rooted in the mud of stagnant to slow flowing water. It is found in ditches, ponds, sloughs, streams, smaller rivers and lakes; however, preferring to live in lakes and ponds, it normally lives in 3-10 feet of water.

The long-peduncled flowers are normally white and have a yellow center. But, they can have a pink or purplish color. The sepals and petals are about 0.5 inches across.

This plant is not recommended for large ponds where population control can be very difficult. Small water gardens or large aquariums where the plant can be controlled is suggested. Please do not release bought aquatic plants into natural bodies of water,or storm drains. If you need to get rid of them, give them away to someone who can use them or kill them by baking them in the sun on a patio, driveway or sidewalk. Better yet, add them to your compst pile.

If you must do away with your excess aquatic plants....bury them in your garden (some plants like Water Hyacinth, make excellent fertilizer), give them away to a watergardening friend, kill the plants by drying them on your driveway in the hot sun or compost them in your compost pile.

Lpcations where this plant has become a real nuisance:
California: Q list (temporary "A" list noxious weed, pending final determination )
Connecticut: Invasive, banned
Maine: Invasive aquatic plant
Vermont: Class A noxious weed
Washington: Class B noxious weed, wetland and aquatic weed quarantine
Prohibited sales in California, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington

Negative jdurha On Aug 26, 2004, jdurha from North Clarendon, VT wrote:

FYI: This is a Class A Noxious Weed in Vermont. Its movement, importation, sale, possesion, cultivation and/or distribution is prohibited with fines upto $1000.00 possible.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Chicago, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio
Austin, Texas
Port Lavaca, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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