Cabomba caroliniana
Midwest Noxious Weed: Do Not Plant

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Carolina fanwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Cabombaceae
Native Range: Central and southeastern United States
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 0.25 to 0.25 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
This plant is listed as a noxious weed in one or more Midwestern states outside Missouri and should not be moved or grown under conditions that would involve danger of dissemination.


Easily grown as a submerged aquatic, either anchored or free-floating, in water gardens in full sun. Set plants out in pots or containers at the bottom of the water body or float plant cuttings/fragments in the water. Plant roots may be anchored in the muddy bottoms of small ponds. Remove or clip stems as needed to control plant populations. Plants spread rapidly and can be difficult to control in larger bodies of water, but are relatively easy to control in small water gardens.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cabomba caroliniana, commonly called fanwort or Carolina watershield, is a submerged aquatic perennial that has become a popular ornamental plant for water gardens and aquariums. Its bright green feathery foliage is quite attractive. By absorbing nutrients, plants help control algae and keep waters clear. Branching stems to 6’ long are densely clad with opposite, fan-shaped leaves that are finely divided into numerous filiform segments. Small linear-oblong peltate floating leaves are sparsely located at the branch ends and rest on the water surface in a manner somewhat reminiscent of tiny water lilies (Cabomba was formerly included in the water lily family). White-petaled flowers (1/2” across) rise slightly above the water surface on long stems growing from the leaf axils. Each flower petal has two yellow spots near the base. Flowers bloom May to September. Colonies in the wild provide cover for fish, small crustaceans, insect larvae and snails. Fanwort is native to the southeastern U. S., but has spread to now range from Massachusetts to Kansas south to Florida and Texas. In Missouri, it is primarily found in swamps and sloughs and backwaters in the southeast lowland region and in floodplain areas near the juncture of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers (Steyermark).

Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the native Guiana name for these perennial aquatic plants.

Specific epithet means coming form North or South Carolina.


No serious insect or disease problems. Can be an aggressive spreader.


Water gardens. Not recommended for large ponds where population control can be more difficult. Large aquariums.