Parrotsfeather is delighfully dangerous for ponds and lakes. Illegal in some states to be sold for water gardens or aquariums, it is the first to quickly spread during the coldest seasons.
Bobby works for his neighborhood HOA. He watches over their big pond and handles any problems. One day he had two neighbors come to him with an issue. One of the neighbors had a pretty plant growing on the bank that they liked. The other neighbor had concerns because the plant was quickly spreading over to their side and wanted it all removed.
Bobby wasn’t sure what to do. He told them to give him a few days to find a solution. Bobby called us and asked about the plant. We took a look and were able to confirm it was an aquatic weed called Parrotfeather.
Parrotfeather (Myriophyllum aquaticum, Brazilian watermilfoil, parrot feather) is really pretty and doesn’t look like a “weed.” It has bright green fir-tree-like emergent leaves and stems. The leaflets are arranged in four to six whorls around the stem with a feather-like leaf arrangement. It forms a dense mat of intertwined brownish stems (or rhizomes) under the water. There also might be some reddish, feathery-leaved, limp, underwater leaves connected.
Its emergent stems and leaves are the most characteristic trait of parrotfeather. When attached to a bank, they can grow up to 12 inches above the water surface and resemble small fir trees. They can sometimes grow white flowers in the axil.
We told Bobby that while Parrot feather may present cover for some aquatic organisms, it can alter the physical and chemical properties of lakes and ponds. Because of the tough stems, it makes it difficult to boat, swim, fish, or water ski. It provides an excellent habitat for mosquito larvae (yuck), and the mass of the plant can cause flooding to occur. It takes over lakes, ponds, and streams outcompeting native plants. He agreed cons definitely outweigh the pros.
This rhizomenous perennial shows a yearly pattern of growth resembling most aquatic weeds. In the springtime, shoots begin to grow quickly from overwintering rhizomes as water temperatures rise. Rhizomes work as a support structure for adventitious roots and provide resilience for emergent growth during the summer. In the fall, Parrotfeather typically dies back to the rhizomes, and everything starts over again in the spring.
Bobby asked if he could just rake or pull out the aquatic weed. We told him that Parrotfeather spreads by fragmentation of stems and rhizomes. While parrotfeather is considered by some to be receptive to herbicides, it is hard to obtain complete control, needing professional help.
We asked Bobby what he thought he should do and he decided to become a member so that he could keep the pond healthy while not being deceived by pretty weeds.
- Parrotfeather is often used in an watergarden or aquarium but is harmful to ponds and lakes.
- Manually harvesting parrotfeather can make propogate or multiply.
- It may present covering for some aquatic organisms, it can alter the physical and chemical properties of lakes and ponds.
- Because of the tough stems, it makes it difficult to boat, swim, or fish.
- It provides an excellent habitat for mosquito larvae, and the mass of the plant can cause flooding to occur.
- Dies in the winter and returns every spring
- It’s considered by some to be receptive to herbicides, but it is hard to obtain complete control. It needs professional help.
Taking care of your lake or pond is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. As your local pond management professionals, we’ve been there. Let us help guide you as a member to protect, plan, and preserve your pond or lake if you live in the Charlotte NC, Asheville NC, and Greenville SC areas.
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