Invasive Species Highlight: Water Chestnut

August 6th, 2018

Water Chestnut

Water chestnut has invaded waterways from Canada to Virginia along the East Coast since its introduction in the 1870s. Water chestnut can be identified by its triangular serrated floating leaves arranged in a rosette pattern, radiating from a central stalk. The stalk is rooted to the bottom substrate and covered in feathery submersed leaves.

These particular plants grow in extremely tight proximity to one another, crowding out desirable native plant species, negatively impacting the aquatic ecosystem and making it difficult to utilize waterbodies for boating and swimming.

Preventative lake management tactics are recommended to help avoid water chestnut infestations as each rosette can produce up to twenty spiked nutlets which allow populations to explode in a few short seasons.

water-chestnut-invasive-speciesThere are, however, management options available for helping control water chestnut. When the infestation is limited, it is possible to control it through hand pulling efforts. Larger infestation can be controlled via mechanical harvesting, ideally performed prior to nutlet formation and maturation to limit spread.

However, if the growth is too extensive or access to the waterbody is limited, a herbicide treatment program performed by an aquatic management professional may be the preferred management approach.


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