Invasive Aquatic Plant Clogs Isleta Drain

DaveNature, South ValleyLeave a Comment

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A closeup of parrot feather that can grow vertically to a foot above the water surface.

The Isleta Drain, which parallels Coors Boulevard just south of Rio Bravo Boulevard, is being invaded by parrot feather, a “noxious weed.” In the photo above you can see the drain water to the far left of the plant mass that nearly spans the drain. The plant is native to the Amazon River, but now has taken root in every continent except Antarctica and its spread is related to it being introduced worldwide for decorative use in indoor and outdoor aquaria. It is also a popular aquatic garden plant. However, it has escaped cultivation and spread via plant fragments and intentional plantings. The parrot feather grows abundantly, shades out naturally occurring algae, and clogs irrigation ducts and canals. The Parrot feather typically exist in bundles and extend out of the water. In large numbers, the plants make a dense mat on the water’s surface. Because of this, they shade the water from sunlight and cause native plants to die because of light deficiency. The organisms that feed on the native plants can die off due to starvation. The dense mats also cause problems for recreation. Swimmers and boat propellors can become entangled. The mats are also a breeding ground for mosquitos. Herbicides do not work very well on parrot feather and physical removal is problematic because the plant can quickly grow back from small pieces of it left in the water, which is asexual reproduction.