Parrotfeather or Proserpinaca?
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Parrotfeather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is an aggressive non-native aquatic weed, most commonly found in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Extensive mats can form across lakes, ponds, swamps and along stream margins. The heavy growth of foliage and intertwined stems crowds out other vegetation, creating a monoculture that clogs waterways and reduces biodiversity. According to Invasive Exotic Plants of North Carolina (Cherri Smith/NC Department of Transportation), “Mechanical control tends to enhance its rate of spread and should only be conducted in small, contained waters.” Chemical control is also quite difficult, but on the other hand failure to manage this weed does result in large scale degradation of surface waters. See the NC Agricultural Chemicals Manual for current aquatic weed control recommendations.
Parrotfeather morphology is highly distinctive, but it’s always possible to make an ID mistake, which can then result in damage to desirable native vegetation if a herbicide product is applied. One potential candidate for a false alarm is our native Proserpinaca palustris (mermaid weed).