Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Eelgrass - Vallisneria americana   Michaux
Members of Hydrocharitaceae:
Only member of Vallisneria in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Hydrocharitales » Family Hydrocharitaceae
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DistributionPrimarily a coastal and near-coastal species, found from the VA border south to Brunswick County. Also a few scattered inland records in the southwestern Coastal Plain and one site in the northern Mountains.

This is a widespread species across the continent, but is primarily coastal and Northern. There are numerous collections south to VA and MO, as well as in FL.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common in the eastern Coastal Plain, south to Carteret County. Very rare farther south and inland, though theoretically could be found in most any county.
HabitatThis species grows submerged in still or slow-moving waters of estuaries, rivers, ponds, and lakes. It often can be found in brackish and oligohaline waters of Tidewater Sounds.
PhenologyFlowers and fruits from July to October.
IdentificationThis is a submerged grasslike plant with a number of essentially erect leaves emerging from a common base. The leaves are up to 2 feet tall, about 1/3-inch wide, and minutely serrate along the margins. Male flowers are numerous and break from a spathe to free-float on the surface, small, with 3 white petals and 3 white sepals. The also white female flowers are on long stalks that reach the water surface. Common Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is a similar plant but has shorter and more branched leaves, which are rounded at the tips and are strongly 3-5 nerved. Zostera grows only in strongly brackish tidal waters of sounds and bays, usually in very extensive beds.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Vallisneria, Water-celery, Wild Celery, Tape-grass, Eelgrass (a misleading name, as Zostera marina is named as Common Eelgrass)
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorrieWestfield, MA, freshwater lake, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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