Horned water weed Zannichellia palustris

Baby grass with long, thread-like leaves

  • English Name: Horned water weed
  • Latin Name: Zannichellia palustris
  • Propogate: Seeds
  • Symptoms: Baby grass with long, thread-like leaves

The Deceptive Survival Tricks of the Horned Water Weed

For such a weak looking weed, the Horned Water Weed thrives incredibly well. It is common across the United States and often does better than other stronger-looking weeds.

The reason is that the weed hides quite a few survival tricks in its delicate demeanor. Despite is thread-like structure, it grows up to three feet long and adapts impressively to its environment. Depending on circumstances, the weed can survive as free-floating branches until it is able to find a less turbulent place to put roots.

It will also grow in low to medium salinity tidal water as well as in muddy and sandy water. And although it prefers shallow water, it will grow in depths of up to 16 feet.

Its lifecycle and reproduction system is equally efficient. Each plant lives for a year and releases its seeds in spring. But even as the leaves and stem wither away, most of the tendril-like creeping roots stay put, ready to sprout new plants in the new season.

The result is that this delicate plant thrives in just about any water body, from alkaline bays, to lakes, streams, ponds and ditches.

The Benefits of the Horned Water Weed

As weeds go, the Horned Water Weed is an exceptionally useful member of the ecosystem. Nearly all types of water fowls, from ducks to gadwall, mallard and pintails love the taste of this weed. Some fish, particularly trout also feed on the weed.

The seasonal lifecycle also helps to make it less of a nuisance because it gives the water a breathing break.

But where the opportunity arises, the weed forms dense mats that block sunlight from reaching other aquatic plants and renders the water inaccessible to fishing, boating and swimming. The seasonal rot of the mass of plants also interferes with oxygen circulation in the water and affects fish.

Controlling Horned Water Weed

Where Horned Water Weed becomes a nuisance, the typical control method is to use cutters, nets and rakes. Some herbicides are also effective, as are non-toxic dyes or colorants that limit the amount of sunlight reaching the weed.

A more effective method is to use our leading weed control product, the Lake Bottom Blanket. The blanket is specially formulated polyethylene of about 10 feet wide with no length limit - that is weighted down into the water to block away sunlight. For weeds that are mostly submerged like the Horned Water weed, the Blanket is especially suited because it is made of material that is lighter than water. The weighting system enables it to drag down the mat of weeds to just off the water bed, leaving space for fish and other aquatic animals to freely swim below and above the blanket.

The Lake Bottom Weed has been approved for use by the DNRs and DEPs of California, Nevada, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington and has already been used in over 400 lakes in over 29 states. On average, the blanket takes no more than four weeks to totally eradicate weed.

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