Aquatic Plant Project

The Aquatic Plant Project was launched in 2019 across Ireland with the aim of improving aquatic plant identification skills and increase recording. This included a huge campaign of training and recording days, resulting in thousands of new records. We continued the project in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 with new opportunities for people to learn about aquatic plants and get involved with recording.

The Aquatic Plant Project will continue through 2024, thanks to continued funding from NPWS. Webinars are recorded and the videos are free to view on the Aquatic Plant Project playlist.

The 2024 programme

The first Aquatic Plant Project event of the 2024 season was a series of two identification workshops at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, led by aquatic plant expert Nick Stewart on 10th and 11th February.

The workshops covered several taxa that can often be confusing, including Myriophyllum, Potamogeton and Sparganium. Nick gave fantastic presentations on these taxa and the key features of the various species, which (by kind permission of Herbarium staff) were then demonstrated  using herbarium specimens. A great (and educational!) time was had by all who attended.

Going forward, a variety of APP field events are planned for the summer.

There will be a webinar on 13th July on the identification of floating-leaved aquatic plants. 

The field day programme is now ready with seven dates available to book (these days include a mixture of training and rare plant survey):

If you require more information on the Aquatic Plant Project in Ireland (which is generously funded by NPWS), please contact the Ireland Officer.

The 2023 programme

Thanks to renewed funding from NPWS, the 2023 programme began with two webinars, now available on YouTube, presented by aquatic expert Nick Stewart, on Identification of stringy-leaved aquatic plants and Identification of feathery-leaved aquatic plants

Six field days were held this year, attended by over 60 botanists from across Ireland:

Saturday 29th July - Gort, Co. Galway
Saturday 19th August - Pallas Lake, Tullamore, Co. Offaly
Sunday 20th August - Lough Sheelin, Tonagh, Mountnugent, Co. Cavan
Saturday 26th August - Lough Ennell, Rochfort Demesne, Co. Westmeath
Sunday 27th August - Mass Lough, Ballinakill, Co. Laois
Sunday 8th October - Lough Talt, Co. Sligo

The 2022 programme

The 2022 programme included three webinars presented by Nick Stewart. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session, and then by a short additional talk.

All the videos are now available online:

A series of field days was also held in a range of locations around Ireland. The aim of the days was to improve identification skills and gather records in a range of aquatic habitats.  Thanks to the generous funding from the Irish National Parks & Wildlife Service the events were free.

The 2021 programme

  • Our first event was a sedge & wetland plant training day on the 2nd July, led by John Faulkner, visiting sites on the Cavan - Monaghan border.
  • We held a webinar on Water-starwort Identification on the 5th July. It covered all Water-starworts (Callitriche spp.) you are likely to encounter in Ireland - and Britain! Watch the video.
  • On 10th July we learned how to identify Water-crowfoots. Watch the video.
  • On 28th July we held a field aquatic plant training day with Cilian Roden & John Conaghan. We visited a site southwest of Carraroe, Connemara, Co. Galway to look for and survey Najas flexilis (Slender Naiad), and learnt how to identify pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.) and other aquatic species - including Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed).
  • Our aquatics expert Nick Stewart led field training sessions in Cork, 21st-23rd August; in Waterford, 28th-29th August; and in Co. Kilkenny (in the Inistoge-Thomastown area) on 30th August.
  • The final event of 2021 was an Introduction to Broad-leaved Pondweeds webinar by Nick Stewart on the 23rd October.

The 2020 programme

We held two webinars led by aquatic plant expert Nick Stewart on Aquatic Plant Identification:

  • Introduction to Aquatic Plant Identification. This webinar covered the main growth forms of aquatic plants, the key features you need to consider, resources to help with identification, and equipment used for sampling. Watch the recording. View the slides.
  • Stonewort Identification. Charophytes, or Stoneworts, are complex aquatic green algae which can be tricky to identify, but Nick will guide us through the process. Watch the recording. View the slides.


All our aquatic plant Handbooks are now available as eBooks. View the Aquatics Collection here.

Stringy-leaved aquatics

Feathery-leaved aquatics

Spiky-rosette aquatics

Bladderwort Identification

Narrow-leaved Pondweed Identification

How to make a grapnel

Broad-leaved Pondweed Identification

Preservation of aquatic plant specimens

Water-crowfoot Identification

Water-starwort Identification

Introduction to Aquatic Plant Identification

Stonewort Identification


Downloadable resources to print:

Books (for home study - don't ruin them in rivers and ponds!)

Contact Details

For more information about the project, contact APP Events Co-ordinator Polly Spencer-Vellacott. To find out more about botany in Ireland, including news, events, and local groups, check out the BSBI Ireland Webpage.