The European Water Chestnut consists of floating leaves that form a rosette. Each plant can have multiple rosettes which create a sheet over the surface of the water. It also has submerged leaves which are deep under the surface of the water. The seed pod is large and has sharp points.
Effects of Water Chestnut: The water chestnut is an invasive species, which means that it competes with native plants for food and habitat. The plant is difficult to control because it grows quickly over a large area and the seeds can survive for up to 12 years.
The water chestnut must be managed so that the habitat of local plants and animals is not negatively affected by oxygen depletion or overuse of other resources.
The plant can spread over large areas of the water, making it difficult to participate in recreational activities. When boating, the plant may get caught on oars making it more difficult to travel through. Also, the seed pods are sharp and can pose a danger to swimmers.
It is possible for the water chestnut to grow over and get caught in water filtration systems which can be expensive to fix. Therefore, controlling the water chestnut is very costly. Thousands of dollars from grants have already been put into this project. It is important to have continued success in controlling water chestnut so that past efforts do not go to waste!
Brief History: The plant was introduced to the U.S. in the 1800's from Eastern Europe. Watersheds such as Lake Champlain and the Potomac River have been managing the species for over 70 years, spending millions of dollars annually. The plant was first discovered in our watershed in 2007 and the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy has been successfully managing infestations since 2009. There are currently ten known infestations affecting seven different waterways within our watershed.
What you can do to help!
One way to help prevent the spread of water chestnut is preventing the transport of seed pods. When boating, avoid areas with these plants so that it doesn't break off and form new plants. Be sure to remove any pieces of the plant or seeds from boats. Make sure to clean and dry boating equipment before its next use. If European water chestnut plants or seeds are found, please contact the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy!