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Naiads

Najas spp.

Spiny naiad has stiff, curved leaves with visible teeth along the edges. (Maryland Department of Natural Resources)
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Spiny naiad has stiff, curved leaves with visible teeth along the edges. (Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

Naiads are bay grasses with short, narrow leaves along slender, branching stems. They grow in non-tidal fresh waters and fresh and brackish tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

Four species of naiads can be found in the Chesapeake Bay region:

  • Spiny naiad (Najas minor)
  • Southern naiad (Najas guadalupensis)
  • Slender naiad (Najas gracillima)
  • Northern naiad (Najas flexilis)

Appearance:

  • Slender, branching stems
  • Short, narrow leaves with pointed tips and a broadened base
  • Leaves grow opposite each other or in whorls along each stem
  • Small, fibrous roots without rhizomes or tubers
  • Spiny naiad has stiff, curved leaves with visible teeth along the edges
  • Southern naiad has flat, straight leaves that are wider than other naiads’ leaves

Habitat:

  • Grows in non-tidal fresh waters and tidal fresh and brackish waters
  • Tolerates low light
  • Prefers areas with a sandy bottom

Range:

  • Ranges from small, non-tidal freshwater streams and ponds to fresh and slightly brackish tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers
  • Spiny naiad is native to Europe

Predators:

  • Migratory waterfowl such as mallards, pintails and lesser scaup feed on southern naiad and northern naiad
  • Slender naiad is not nutritious enough for waterfowl

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Reproduces sexually
  • Each plant has both male and female flowers
  • After the flowers are pollinated, seeds form in late summer
  • Seeds germinate and grow into new plants the following spring

Other Facts:

  • Southern naiad is also known as bushy pondweed and water nymph
  • Although spiny naiad is not native to the Chesapeake Bay region, it is not considered invasive

Sources and Additional Information:

Places:




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