Pretty Intruders: Water Hyacinth and Other Invasive Flowering Pond Weeds

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Flowering Rush is a Popular Ornamental

Invasive species can disrupt indigenous wetland ecosystems. Photo: Ruben Holthuisen / CC by 2.0

Invasive species can disrupt indigenous wetland ecosystems. Photo: Ruben Holthuijsen / CC by 2.0

Flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) is a popular ornamental plant that easily turns invasive. It produces umbrella-shaped groups of pinkish-white flowers and long and narrow leaves, with tips that grow into a spiral. Flowering rush is a successful invader because it produces many seeds and also reproduces from broken rhizomes. It is very successful at colonizing disturbed areas, and can displace other shoreline plants like willows and cattails because its roots form a thick mat. It is difficult to remove flowering rush because any pieces of root that are left behind can make new plants. Cutting the flower stalk limits its spread.

Invasive Pond Weeds: Preventing the Spread

As a gardener, the best way to prevent invasive pond weeds from spreading is to avoid planting them in the garden, since many invasive species are sold as decorative plants in nurseries. Choose native plants for the pond or water garden and research new additions to the garden to make sure that they won’t take over the pond and surrounding native wetlands.

Some invasive plants should only be removed in certain seasons to prevent the spread of seeds, while others can reproduce through vegetative reproduction, growing from the smallest parts of the plant. When these invasive species are present in an area outside the garden, check with local authorities to determine make sure that you’re removing the plant correctly and that any removal efforts will not further damage the wetland environment.

Resources

United States Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Library. Water Hyacinth. (2012). Accessed January 8, 2013.

Minnesota Sea Grant College Program. Flowering Rush. (2009). Accessed January 8, 2013.

National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service. Purple Loosestrife. (2010). Accessed January 8, 2013.

 

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