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Overview

Brief Summary

History in the United States

Parrot-feather was introduced to the United States in the Washington, DC area about 1890. Commonly sold for aquaria and aquatic gardens, it has escaped to become invasive in ponds and other calm water bodies in this region.

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Perennial aquatic herb, usually submerged with the upper part floating but occasionally creeping on to sandy or muddy banks. Small leaves whorled, pinnatifid right down to the midrib.
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Distribution

Distribution and Habitat in the United States

Parrot-feather occurs in at least 26 states throughout the United States. It is limited to non-tidal, freshwater, slow-moving water bodies including tributaries, ponds, lakes and canals. It prefers good light, slightly alkaline and high-nutrient environments.

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Origin

South America

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Myriophyllum proserpinacoides Gillies ex Hook. & Arn.:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Myriophyllum aquaticum Verdc.:
Austria (Europe)
Afghanistan (Asia)
Argentina (South America)
Australia (Oceania)
Bolivia (South America)
Brazil (South America)
Chile (South America)
Colombia (South America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
France (Europe)
Hawaiian Isl (Oceania)
Japan (Asia)
Java (Asia)
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
Madagascar (Africa & Madagascar)
Nicaragua (Mesoamerica)
New Zealand (Oceania)
Peru (South America)
Philippines (Asia)
Malaysia (Asia)
South Africa (Africa & Madagascar)
United States (North America)
Uruguay (South America)
Zimbabwe (Africa & Madagascar)
Paraguay (South America)
United Kingdom (Europe)
China (Asia)
Venezuela (South America)
Caribbean (Caribbean)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Myriophyllum brasiliense Cambess.:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Worldwide distribution

Native of tropical S America but widely naturalised in the tropics
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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C. Nepal (Recently introduced)
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description and Biology

  • Plant: aquatic plant with stout elongate stems suspended in the water column and/or floating; both stems and submerged leaves may be reddish tinted; gray-green tips of the stems with leaves may protrude above the water.
  • Leaves: well-developed, finely pinnately divided, in whorls of mostly five with smooth leaf margins.
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers and fruits, if present emerge from axils of leaves.
  • Spreads: vegetatively from whole plants or fragments; it can be dispersed by people dumping aquaria into rivers and ponds and by animals carrying fruits and fragments on their bodies.
  • Look-alikes: many species of submerged aquatic plants including non-native invasive Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and native species such as Northern water-milfoil (M. sibiricum), coontail (Ceratophyllum dmersum) and water marigold (Megalodonta beckii).

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Elevation Range

100 - 1500 m (Natz.)
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Myriophyllum aquaticum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Myriophyllum aquaticum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Source: NatureServe

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Management

Prevention and Control

Attempting control by manual or mechanical means tends to spread the plants and should only be conducted in small, contained water bodies. Draining a pond in the summer achieved control in one instance, but draining may not achieve control in winter. Control with herbicides is difficult because the emergent stems and leaves have a waxy cuticle that repels herbicides. Research into biological control of parrot-feather is ongoing.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Ecological Threat in the United States

It can form dense mats and compete with native aquatic plants, especially in shallow ponds. It also provides habitat for mosquito larvae, impedes boats and clogs drainage ditches.

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Wikipedia

Myriophyllum aquaticum

Myriophyllum aquaticum is a flowering plant, a vascular dicot, commonly called parrot feather and parrotfeather watermilfoil.

Habitat[edit]

Parrot feather is native to the Amazon River in South America, but it can now be found on every continent except Antarctica.[1][2] It is thought that this plant was introduced to North America around the late 1800s. It was first discovered in the United States in the 1890s in Washington D.C.[3] Parrot’s feather typically grows in freshwater streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and canals that have a high nutrient content. During the 20th century it colonized areas in South Africa, Japan, England, New Zealand, and Australia.[2] As it prefers a warmer climate, it is chiefly found in the southern parts of the United States.[3]

Morphology and reproduction[edit]

Parrot feather is a perennial plant. Parrot feather gets its name from its feather-like leaves that are arranged around the stem in whorls of four to six. The emergent stems and leaves are the most distinctive trait of parrot feather, as they can grow up to a foot above the water surface and look almost like small fir trees. The woody emergent stems grow over 5 feet long and will extend to the bank and shore. Attached to the Parrot feather are pinkish-white flowers that extend approximately 1/16 inch long.[3] 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. Almost all plants of this species are female, in fact there are no male plants found outside of South America.[4] Seeds are not produced in any North American plants. Parrot feather reproduces asexually. New plants grow from fragments of already rooted plants. The plant has whorls of feathery blue-green to waxy gray-green leaves deeply cut into many narrow lobes.

Kasselmann recently described a new variety, M. aquaticum var. santacatarinense, which distinguishes itself from the typical variety by its more stiff and robust habitus and pinnae that are fewer and broader.[5]

Use and spread[edit]

Parrot feather is now used for indoor and outdoor aquatic use. It is a popular plant in aquatic gardens.[2] It spreads easily and has become an invasive species and a noxious weed in many areas.[2] The plant can be introduced to new areas when sections of its rhizome are dug up and moved.[2] In Florida in the United States, flea beetles have been found to use parrot feather as a host for their larvae.

Problems[edit]

Because of its attractiveness and ease of cultivation, parrot feather has been introduced worldwide for use in indoor and outdoor aquaria. It is also a popular aquatic garden plant. However, it has escaped cultivation and spread via plant fragments and intentional plantings. While parrot feather may provide cover for some aquatic organisms, it can seriously change the physical and chemical characteristics of lakes and streams.[3] The parrot feather grows abundantly, shades out naturally-occurring algae, and clogs irrigation ducts and canals. The Parrot feather typically exist in bundles and extend out of the water. In large numbers, the plants make a dense mat on the water's surface. Because of this, they shade the water from sunlight and cause native plants to die because of light deficiency. The organisms that feed on the native plants can die off due to starvation. The dense mats also cause problems for recreation. Swimmers and boat propellors can become entangled. The mats are also a breeding ground for mosquitos.[3]

Cleanup efforts[edit]

[2] Herbicides have not been found very useful in controlling its growth, partly because the plant has a waxy cuticle that seals out the poison.[2] Cutting and chopping can actually promote the plant's spread.[2] 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.[6]

The two main solutions to manage this aquatic nuisance is physically removing the plant and or using herbicides.

The physical aspects of removal are such acts of cutting, harvesting, and rotovation (underwater rototilling). These methods see best results only when the extent of the infestation has taken over all available niches. Best results are seen this way due to the availability of space as compared to rapid growth. Using physical control methods while the plant is still invading will tend to enhance its rate of spread.[3]

Another method of controlling Parrots feather is by the usage of herbicides. The herbicides are effective to the plant part exposed above water. The plant parts beneath the water never come fully into contact with the pesticides and are therefore washed away. Herbicides are most effective when applied to young growing plants. They should be applied repeatedly to show maximum results. M. aquaticum is more difficult to control with herbicides than other aquatic species. The leaves are protected by a thick waxy coating, and in order for herbicides to penetrate the leaves, surfactants must be added; however, herbicides may impact non-target native plants or animals.[7]

In the United Kingdom, this plant is one of five introduced aquatic plants which are to be banned from sale from April 2014. This is the first ban of its kind in the country.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Potential Invader. [1] Accessed 2011-11-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Washington State Department of Ecology
  3. ^ a b c d e f Non-native Invasive Plants. [2] Accessed 2011-11-10.
  4. ^ Potential Invader [3] Accessed 2011-11-20.
  5. ^ C. Kasselmann. 2011. Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vellozo) Verdcourt var. santacatarinense Kasselman, var. nov. (Haloragaceae). Aqua Planta 36 (4): 128-133.
  6. ^ Myriophyllum aquaticum. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  7. ^ Potential Invader. [4] Accessed 2011-11-20.
  8. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21232108
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