Myriophyllum aquaticum, a very invasive aquatic plant

Aquatic foxtail, an ideal plant for ponds

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Marie-Lan Nguyen

The world of aquatic or semi-aquatic plants is very broad: there are some that are very decorative and easy to grow, and there are others that are tremendously invasive. One of the latter is the species Myriophyllum aquaticuma grass of a beautiful green color.

Its growth rate is very fast, but not only that, it also prevents other plants from growing.

Origin and characteristics

This is a perennial herbaceous plant – it lives several years – native to the wetlands of South America, and introduced to North America in 1800. Today it has become very popular for its use in aquariums. Its scientific name is Myriophyllum aquaticumalso called the water fox tail. It develops thick stems, with leaves in whorls of 3-6, with a length of 2-5cm, of light green color. The flowers are unisexual, tiny and white ;, and the fruit is a 1 to 2mm long nut.

In Spain it is considered an invasive plant because they constitute a serious threat to native plants, habitats or ecosystems. It was entered in the Invasive Alien Species Catalog on August 2, 2013.

What uses does it have?

Myriophyllum aquaticumMyriophyllum aquaticum

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Forest & Kim Starr

It is used as an aquarium plantbe it internal or external. The problem is that it grows very fast and it is very difficult to control it, since it has no competition and there are no herbicides that completely eradicate it. In the places of origin, some insects feed on it, and even in Florida – where it was introduced – they don’t have much problem either, since the larvae of the Alticini wasps use it as food; but in the rest of the world we are not that lucky.

In addition to overcrowding, other reasons why its use is prohibited are:

  • Algae overgrowth
  • Mosquito proliferation
  • Irrigation and drainage problems

So if you are ever tempted to get a copy, you better not buy it .

Myriophyllum aquaticum, a very invasive aquatic plant

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