Water Spangles is identified by mats of Green and Brown plants floating Oval shapes, Hairs
The Water Spangles weeds are well named. They don't exactly sparkle like real spangles, but they are the sort of aquatic plant you would want in an aquarium. They have two green, oval shaped leaves with striking whitish "hair" that give them a glittering look. The hairs are stiff but, to the eye, they look kind of fuzzy. The weed is in fact sometimes called the sun fern because of that bright look. Each plant has an additional finely dissected leaf that is not easy to spot because it dangles back into the water like a root. Water spangles are the smallest of a species of weeds called Salvinia which explains their scientific name, Salvinia minima. What sets the Spangles apart from the others are those three leaves per plant with one hanging back into the water. They are ferns, like the equally lovely mosquito ferns, which means they never have flowers.
Water Spangles are native to South America but have spread across the US, mostly because they are popular aquatic plants. They are rootles plants, instead floating freely on water and using one leaf hanging in the water as a substitute root. Being rootless means they can only grow in still or very slow moving water where there is little wind or water current such as in ponds, ditches, swamps and lakes. They only grow in fresh water. Water Spangles are small plants, typically less than an inch long but able to reach 4 inches or 10cms. They grow pretty fast and can totally cover a small pond with a dense mat within weeks. They are also hardy plants that do quite well in dry climate where they appear suddenly after rains and grow fast enough to reach maturity before the weather reverts to dryness. Part of the reason behind the success of Water Spangles weeds is that they reproduce through spores. By their nature, spores come in copious amounts, making them a very efficient way of producing lots of potential new plants in a short spell.
Water Spangles are mostly used as aquarium or ornamental plants in ponds. But it is that attractiveness as hobby plant that has helped them spread as people empty their aquariums or transport the plants for sale. As a result, the weed is a nuisance whenever it finds a footing in the natural environment, forming dense mats that inhibit other aquatic plants, clogging waterways and destroying animal and plants by cutting off light and oxygen. The normal way of dealing with such excessive water spangles weeds is to physically remove it from the water. Any suitable implement, such as a rake, will do the job. A particularly good implement for the job is the Deskuzzer. This is a 5 foot wide floating seine with sturdy abrasion, ultra tough screen, and a 24 foot pull line that makes it easy to reach far out in the water. It is one of our weed control products.