The Eurasian watermilfoil is made up of tough, branching stems that can grow to 8 feet long. They have delicate, feather-like leaves that grow in whorls of 4 to 5 along each stem. Leaves lose their shape when taken out of the water. Spikes of reddish flowers poke above the water’s surface in late summer. The plant has a rooted base.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
This grass usually reproduces asexually when stem fragments form into new plants. It can also reproduce sexually in late summer, when female flowers are pollinated through the air. They produce nut-like seeds that sink to the bottom. Seeds can remain viable for years.
Did You Know?
- Eurasian watermilfoil provides good habitat for young fish, crabs and invertebrates.
- This plant was accidentally introduced in the Chesapeake Bay in the early 20th century. By the late 1950s, thick mats of Eurasian watermilfoil covered thousands of acres of the Bay and its rivers. By 1970 these large beds died back, and today the species grows in moderation.
- It can be confused with coontail. You can distinguish Eurasian watermilfoil by its feathery leaves that lose their shape when taken out of the water.
Sources and Additional Information
- Underwater Grasses in Chesapeake Bay & Mid-Atlantic Coastal Waters by Maryland Sea Grant
- Life in the Chesapeake Bay by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson
- Chesapeake Bay: Nature of the Estuary, A Field Guide by Christopher P. White
- SAV Key: Eurasian Watermilfoil – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia: Eurasian Watermilfoil – Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
- Weed Identification Guide: Eurasian Watermilfoil – Virginia Tech
- Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas: Eurasian Watermilfoil – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service