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Carolina Fanwort

Carolina Fanwort produces white flowers and has small, elliptical leaves near the water's surface. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

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Common Name: Carolina Fanwort
Scientific Name: Cabomba caroliniana
Origin: Southeast United States


Carolina fanwort is a submerged, rooted perennial with two types of leaves. The submerged leaves are opposite, fan-shaped, deeply dissected and about 2 in. wide while the small floating leaves are entire and elliptic in shape. Stems can be up to 6.5 ft long. Small, white flowers with yellow or pink centers, emerge in late summer. Reproduction occurs vegetatively through fragmentation and by seed.


Native to the southern United States, and a popular aquarium plant, Carolina fanwort is regionally invasive and found in 3-10 ft. of water. Carolina fanwort prefers lakes and ponds, but can also be found in slow-moving rivers and streams.


Carolina fanwort forms extremely dense stands that clog drainage systems and waterways, interfering with recreational activities and causing economic damage. Dense stands also negatively impact native biodiversity, displacing native plants and altering habitats through changes in oxygen levels and pH.


Clean, drain, dry prevention methods are ideally suited to stop the spread of this species. Once established, small infestations can be controlled through manual removal. Mechanical removal, water level manipulation and herbicide application have been tried in the northeast with limited success, making prevention all the more important.

Regional Distribution

Not Present

Carolina fanwort is not currently within the WNY PRISM region, but can be found in Pennsylvania.

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 1 – Raise Awareness

NYS Invasive Species Tiers Chart – Tier Definitions


Carolina fanwort was likely introduced in its invasive range the improper disposal of aquarium contents. Its ability to reproduce vegetatively also allows it to spread on improperly cleaned water equipment.


Carolina fanwort is a prohibited species in New York State – for more information on Prohibited and Regulated Species, visit

Additional Resources:

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England: Carolina Fanwort

Michigan State: Fact Sheet

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Fact Sheet