Elodea (weeds)

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Elodea canadensis (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Christiaan Sepp
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Elodea (weeds) Michx. 1803 - (waterweeds)

This is a small genus of aquatic plants with 6 species that are found in shallow fresh water lakes, rivers and ponds. The species are native to the Americas, but several have spread to other regions and have become serious aquatic weeds in some countries. For example, Elodea canadensis was first recorded from Europe in the 1830s and is now very common across Central Europe. It spreads to new areas either accidentally (e.g. through water birds) or deliberately (e.g. as aquarium plants). Heavy infestations suppress the native fauna and flora. Also, human use of the water bodies can be disrupted.

The plants are fully submerged, with the roots growing in the soil, floating stems, and only the flowers rising above the water surface. The stems can grow to a length of several metres. The leaves are arranged in whorls around the stems, like in other genera of Hydrocharitaceae. In Elodea, there are only three leaves per whorl. Sections of the stem often become detached, float away and re-grow to full plants in another location. Propagation through seeds is less common.

Currently, the following species have been entered into the system: