Parrot feather is native to the Amazon River in South America – however, it can be found worldwide now. It is thought that this plant was introduced to North America around the 1800s. As it prefers a warmer climate, it is chiefly found in the southern parts of the United States. Parrot feather is a fresh-water plant; it can be found in lakes, ponds, and streams.
Parrot feather is a perennial plant. As the water warms in the spring, parrot feather begins to flourish. Most plants flower in the spring; however, some also flower in the fall. Flowers of this plant are very small and white in color. Almost all plants of this species are female, in fact there are no male plants found outside of South America. Seeds are not produced in any North American plants. Parrot feather reproduces asexually. New plants grow from fragments of already rooted plants.
Use and abuse
Parrot feather is now used for indoor and outdoor aquatic use. It is a very popular plant in aquatic gardens. Unfortunately, in outdoor ponds, lakes, or streams, where this plant has taken root some problems can occur due to its presence. There is no real predator to the parrot feather plant, so it tends to grow out of control in some areas. The plant tends to be a little hard or tough for most water grazers to eat. In its native habitat, some insects feed on this plant, but in its introduced habitats only a handful of predators have been found, and research does not show any considerable damage. In the United States (Florida), flea beetles have been found to use parrot feather as a host for their larvae.
Some problems created by parrot feather due to its overgrowth are the killing off of algae, and mosquito larvae habitat; problems in irrigation and drainage, and restriction of water recreational activities. Herbicides have not been found very useful in controlling its growth, and cutting it only tends to make it spread and grow more. In the U.S. states of Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Washington, parrot feather is a declared noxious weed and is therefore banned from sale.