Parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), an invasive aquatic plant, has been found in three private ponds in Michigan since 2013. Due to its aggressive growth, parrot feather – a popular aquarium plant sometimes sold under the name Brazilian watermilfoil – has been a prohibited species in Michigan since 2005.
Why be concerned?
Parrot feather prefers slow-moving, freshwater habitats including ponds, lakes and tributaries. Plants rooted in lake or stream beds can grow to 6 feet, extending above or across the water’s surface as dense mats of vegetation that block native plants, reduce fish habitat, and make fishing and boating difficult.
Because new plants readily sprout from stem fragments, removal efforts such as raking or pulling may contribute to their spread. Failure to thoroughly remove plant debris from boats and trailers can allow parrot feather to hitchhike to new locations.
What’s being done?
Parrot feather has been eradicated at one location and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Water Resources Division is leading control efforts at the other two ponds, with the goal of eliminating the plant before it can spread to larger water bodies.
Though parrot feather no longer can legally be possessed, imported or sold in Michigan, it is available for online purchase and still may be in aquariums and water gardens around the state.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has developed a new video to help people identify and report parrot feather. The video is part of the department’s MDEQ Minute series, offering 60-second views on a broad range of topics including new and potential invasive species in Michigan.
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