Prospect Lake Aquatic Plant Survey 2016
12 Nov 2016
July 2016: see map above for site locations
Northern water-milfoil [Myriophyllum sibericum]
Leaves are finely divided in feather-like pattern and grouped in 3 – 6 whorls around stem [typically 4]. NorthernMilfoil
Stem is rigid [ie not floppy like Eurasian water-milfoil].
Leaflets pairs are never completely opposite [always slightly alternating in pattern].
Northern water-milfoil are native and generally are not considered to be a problem species, but parrot’s feather and Eurasion water-milfoil are. These three plants are very difficult to distinguish from one another.
To distinguish Northern milfoil from Eurasian milfoil, consult an expert identification*. One seasonally distinguishing factor is that Northern milfoil produces winter buds.
Key to Common Aquatic Plants. BC Lake Stewardship Society. November 2011
* “If you suspect Eurasian water-milfoil is a problem in your lake, please seek seek expert assistance in identification. Pigment analysis or DNA is used for positive ID.”
Eurasian Watermilfoil [Myriophyllum spicatum] EurasianMilfoil
This brochure has been produced to answer the more frequent enquiries received by the Ministry of Environment on Eurasian watermilfoil and to provide you with general information on related water management concerns.
What is the Problem?
Aquatic plants are an important part of the biology of our lakes and other water bodies. They provide food, habitat and rearing areas for a wide variety of organisms. Vegetation helps to stabilize lake bottoms and aerate the water. However, some aquatic plants, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, also can have undesirable effects, especially when they are too abundant or become established in unwanted locations.
In British Columbia, problems caused by Eurasian watermilfoil include:
growing and spreading rapidly
invading and replacing native plant communities
obstructing swimming, boating, waterskiing and fishing
reducing the appeal of beach areas due to the accumulation of plant debris
impeding flood control, water conservation, drainage and irrigation works
reducing the economic benefits of tourism where dense growth limits recreation.
Eurasian watermilfoil is not native to North America. It was first observed in British Columbia in 1970 in Okanagan Lake. The plant has spread since to Shuswap and Mara Lakes, to Christina and Champion Lakes in the Kootenays, to all the main lakes in the Okanagan Valley and to numerous water bodies in the Lower Mainland. Also, isolated populations were discovered on Vancouver Island in 1985, and in Nicola Lake in 1991.
Many uninfested water bodies in these areas and elsewhere in British Columbia remain susceptible to the introduction of this plant.
How Does it Grow and Spread?
Eurasian watermilfoil is a perennial, which grows from a fibrous root system on a variety of bottom types. During the spring and summer months, when growth is rapid, plants may reach the water surface from depths exceeding five metres.
Floating plant fragments produced by waves and boaters are spread by water currents, making the plant difficult to contain. New plants develop when the fragments sink, rooting best in protected locations.
Boats and boat trailers carrying plant fragments are thought to be the most common form of spread from one water body to another.
Management strategies currently in use in British Columbia include:
preventive efforts (e.g. surveillance of non-infested areas and public information to discourage spread, particularly by boaters)
placing bottom coverings on new populations to prevent lake-wide infestations
root removal (maintenance of priority areas by rototilling or shallow water cultivation)
harvesting (cosmetic control by cutting the plant below the water surface)
What Can You Do?
Reduce spread of watermilfoil and other aquatic weeds by clearing all plant material from boats, motors, trailers, wet wells and anchors.
Dispose of plants far away from water bodies.
Learn how to identify Eurasian watermilfoil.
Report suspected new infestations to any Ministry of Environment.
Contact local authorities and seek expert advice when concerned about aquatic plant problems in your community.
Originally published in June 1993 / updated: July 2011