Field stories: Stumbling upon the sheated pondweed

Most of the time our surveys of vegetation in the Bothnian Bay are planned, forseeable and follow a systematic routine. But some things you can only stumble upon, such as finding the sheated pondweed (Stuckenia vaginata).

The sheated pondweed grows mainly in deeper areas but reaches its stem up to the surface. It is therefore mostly spotted from the boat. Photo by Kajsa Johansson, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.

It was during the boat transportation to our intended study site that we earlier this week stumbled upon this magnificent plant. On the surface it may not look too impressive, a green, half meter long plant with many thin leaves floating. But when you consider the depth at which you’re at you’ll understand that these plants are the giants of the northern Bothnian Bay. In our case the depth showed 2,2 meters, which means the sheated pondweeds had a hight of nearly three meters!

The sheated pondweed form clones. If you spot one on the surface its likely to be more of them around. Photo by Kajsa Johansson, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.

They can be found in freshwater lakes and brackish water, in the northern regions of Siberia, North America, Asia and here in the Bothnian Bay. In Sweden it is listed as “near threatened” on the red list of endangered species. Findings of them are not too common, which may also be due to them being easily overlooked.

Top part of a plant with the very thin and narrow leaves significant for sheated pondweed. Photo by Petra Pohjola, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.
Close up of the flowers. Photo by Petra Pohjola, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.

Written by Linnea Bergdahl, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten.

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