Sp. Pl. 1: 127. 1753 (as pusillum).
Rhizomes absent. Cauline stems terete to slightly compressed, without spots, 18–150 cm; glands present on at least some nodes, green, gold, brown, or rarely white, to 0.5 mm diam. Turions common, soft, lateral or terminal, 0.9–3.2 cm × 0.3–1.8 mm, soft; leaves ± 2-ranked; outer leaves 1–3 per side, base not corrugate, apex subulate to obtuse; inner leaves rolled into hardened fusiform structure. Leaves submersed, ± spirally arranged, sessile, delicate to coarse; stipules persistent, inconspicuous, connate or convolute, free from base of blade, brown to green or white, not ligulate, 0.31–0.92 cm, rarely appearing fibrous, not shredding at tip, apex obtuse; blade pale green to olive-green, rarely somewhat reddish, linear, not arcuate, 0.9–6.5 cm × 0.2–2.5 mm, base slightly tapering, without basal lobes, not clasping, margins entire, not crispate, apex not hoodlike, subulate to obtuse, lacunae absent or present, in 0–5 rows each side of midrib; veins 1–3(–5). Inflorescences unbranched, submersed or emersed; peduncles not dimorphic, axillary or terminal, erect, rarely recurved, filiform to slightly clavate, 0.5–6.2(–6.6) cm; spikes not dimorphic, capitate to cylindric, 1.5–10.1 mm. Fruits sessile, green to brown, ovoid to obovoid, turgid to concave, not abaxially or laterally keeled, 1.5–2.2 × 1.2–1.6 mm; beak erect, 0.1–0.6; sides without basal tubercles; embryo with less than 1 full spiral.
Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., N.S., N.W.T., Nunavut, Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon, Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Mass., Md., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., N.C., N.Dak., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., Nebr., Nev., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Va., Vt., W.Va., Wash., Wis., Wyo., nearly worldwide.
Three hybrids, Potamogeton perfoliatus × P. pusillus (= P. × mysticus Morong), P. friesii × P. pusillus (= P. × pusilliformis Fisher [P. × intermedius Fischer]), and P. obtusifolius × P. pusillus (= P. × saxonicus Hagström), have been described.
Subspecies 3 (3 in the flora).
|1||Leaf blade 1-veined, subulate, 0.2–0.7 mm wide; New England and s Quebec.||Potamogeton pusillus subsp. gemmiparus|
|1||Leaf blade 1–5-veined, acute to obtuse, 0.2–2.5 mm wide; widespread throughout North America.||> 2|
|2||Mature fruits obovoid, sides concave; beak toward adaxial edge, rarely median; peduncles filiform to cylindric, 1–3 per plant; inflorescences interrupted; leaf blade with 0–2 rows of lacunae along midrib, apex acute, rarely apiculate, rarely with bristle; stipules connate.||Potamogeton pusillus subsp. pusillus|
|2||Mature fruits widest at middle or ovoid, sides rounded; beak median, not toward adaxial edge; peduncles cylindric, more than 3 per plant; inflorescences continuous; leaf blade with 1–5 rows of lacunae along midrib, apex acute to obtuse; stipules convolute.||Potamogeton pusillus subsp. tenuissimus|