Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Ceratophyllum demersum
(coontail)

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Datasheet

Ceratophyllum demersum (coontail)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Ceratophyllum demersum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • coontail
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. demersum is a cosmopolitan submerged aquatic species that has probably already invaded most of its potential exotic range. It has the advantages of being a perennial surviving well overwinter in deeper water and by growing both by asexua...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Aquatic habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionAquatic habit.
CopyrightShaun Winterton
Aquatic habit.
HabitAquatic habit.Shaun Winterton

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Ceratophyllum demersum Linnaeus, 1753

Preferred Common Name

  • coontail

Other Scientific Names

  • Ceratopyllum komarovii Kuzen.
  • Ceratopyllum pentacanthum Haynald
  • Ceratopyllum platyacanthum Cham.

International Common Names

  • English: hornwort
  • Spanish: cama de ranas (Argentina); celestina de agua (Argentina); cola de zorro (Argentina)
  • French: cératophylle submergé; cornifle nageant; cornue d'eau

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: candelabro-aquatico
  • Cuba: celestina
  • Germany: Hornblatt, Gemeines; Hornblatt, Rauhes
  • Italy: coda di volpe
  • Japan: kingyomo; matsumo
  • Netherlands: Hoornblad

EPPO code

  • CEYDE (Ceratophyllum demersum)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. demersum is a cosmopolitan submerged aquatic species that has probably already invaded most of its potential exotic range. It has the advantages of being a perennial surviving well overwinter in deeper water and by growing both by asexual reproduction of broken or complete stems and by sexual reproduction of very many seeds. It has a wide ecological tolerance and grows relatively fast. Disturbance of the water body results in increases in growth through changes in nutrient availability but also in faster dispersal around water bodies allowing greater competition with less vigorous species.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Nymphaeales
  •                         Family: Ceratophyllaceae
  •                             Genus: Ceratophyllum
  •                                 Species: Ceratophyllum demersum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The dicotyledonous, submerged plant Ceratophyllum demersum belongs to the Family Ceratophyllaceae. This family comprises three species: C. demersum, C. submersum and C. muricatum, with C. demersum is a stiff robust plant with leaves normally dichotomously forked twice compared to, for example, C. submersum which in Europe is rather soft and typically has leaves divided 3-4 times, or to members of the Haloragagceae in Australasia. The Ceratophyllaceae are regarded as monotypic, comprising the single extant genus Ceratophyllum. They show no close affinity to any extant angiosperm group. The family is viewed as a vestige of ancient angiosperms that diverged quite early from the line that gave rise to most other modern taxa. The occurrence of typically monocotyledonous features in Ceratophyllum and Nymphaeales may indicate a common gene pool somewhere in the remote ancestry of this order and other ancient angiosperms. To better reflect the isolated phylogenetic position of Ceratophyllaceae in classification schemes, a new order, Ceratophyllales, is proposed by Les (1988).

There are considered to be two sub species: C. ceratophyllum subsp. platyacanthum (Cham.) Nyman, and C. ceratophyllum subsp. demersum, and two varieties, var. inerme Gay ex Radcl.-Sm characterised by having the 2 long basal spines of the fruit missing or, as in var. apicatum (Cham.) Asch., reduced to tubercles. However, Missouri Botanical Garden (2008) note over ten varieties in addition to these two subspp.and two forms, C. demersum as well as the stated synonyms, there are also some 80 older names for the species and sub species (See Kew Check list of world families). A useful general introductory book on identifying water plant of the world is available (Cook, 1990).

Description

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C. demersum is a perennial, submerged aquatic angiosperm, occasionally branching but with a single branch produced per node. Leaves are mid-dark green, rigid sessile, in whorles of 6-8, dichotomously divided (1- or 2-3-forked) into linear segments with 4 or 5 prominent teeth marginally. Roots are lacking, but leafy branches are sometimes modified as rhizoids; stems break easily and the pieces continue growth separately. Flowers are unisexual, both staminate and pistillate on the same plant, very small, solitary in axil of one leaf of a given whorl, each subtended by an 8-12-part involucre; they have no perianth. The staminate flowers have 4-10 stamens, with very short filaments, anthers with a connective projecting distally and ending in 2 bristles. Pistillate flowers have 1 pistil and a superior, 1-locular, ovary. The fruit is 1-seeded, ovoid-oblong 4-6 mm long achene, with spineless, lateral margins and 1 or 2 basal spines (Godfrey and Wooten, 1981).

Distribution

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C. demersum is a rootless aquatic macrophyte with a cosmopolitan distribution; it has a wide ecological tolerance. When water is disturbed, it is quite common for native species to increase their growth and become a threat to human use of the water body. Frequently, disturbance of the bed of the water body or soils in the catchment results from an increase in the trophic level of the water or the substrate. C. demersum has become locally troublesome on several occasions (Cook, 1990). It is one of the 26 aquatic vascular plant species that Cook (1985) characterized as 'very widespread', and is unlikely to be native throughout its whole range of occurrence.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

BeninPresentHutchinson and Dalziel (1954)
ChadPresentUK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Collected by F.N. Hepper
Côte d'IvoirePresent, WidespreadMulligan (1974)
EgyptPresent, WidespreadImam et al. (1972); Khattab and El-Gharably (1990); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)
EthiopiaPresentHolm et al. (1979); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)
GhanaPresent, WidespreadPierce and Opoku (1971)
KenyaPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Gaudet (1973)
MaliPresentHutchinson and Dalziel (1954)
NigeriaPresentSaliu (1989)
SenegalPresentHutchinson and Dalziel (1954)
Sierra LeonePresentHutchinson and Dalziel (1954)
SudanPresent, WidespreadImam et al. (1972); Desougi and Obeid (1978); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)
TanzaniaPresentUK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Collected by F.L. Van der Plank, E. Milne-Redhead, & P. Taylor
ZimbabwePresentHolm et al. (1979)

Asia

AfghanistanPresentHolm et al. (1979)
BangladeshPresentHolm et al. (1979)
ChinaPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-AnhuiPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Hong-jun and Xue-ming (1986)
-HubeiPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Hong-jun and Xue-ming (1986)
-HunanPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Hong-jun and Xue-ming (1986)
-Inner MongoliaPresentCABI (Undated b)
-JiangsuPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Hong-jun and Xue-ming (1986)
-JiangxiPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Hong-jun and Xue-ming (1986)
IndiaPresentUK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Collected by C.B. Clarke
-Andhra PradeshPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated b)
-BiharPresent, WidespreadSaha (1986); CABI (Undated)
-GujaratPresent, WidespreadSreenivas and Rana (1992)
-HaryanaPresent, WidespreadYadava et al. (1993); CABI (Undated)
-Jammu and KashmirPresent, WidespreadTicku and Zutshi (1991); CABI (Undated)
-KarnatakaPresentKiran et al. (2007)
-MizoramPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated);
-OdishaPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated);
-PunjabPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated)Original citation: Sidhu et al. (1982)
-RajasthanPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated b)
-Uttar PradeshPresent, WidespreadDutta et al. (1972); CABI (Undated);
-West BengalPresent, WidespreadMukhopadhyay and Taraphdar (1973); Hajra (1987)
IndonesiaPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-Irian JayaPresent, WidespreadSukarwo (1991)
-JavaPresent, WidespreadSoerjani (1973); Sastroutomo and Utomo (1985)
-SulawesiPresent, WidespreadVaas (1956)
IraqPresentCABI (Undated b)
IsraelPresent, WidespreadWaisel (1972)
JapanPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-HonshuPresent, WidespreadIkusima (1970); Sastroutomo (1982)
LaosPresentWaterhouse (1993)
MalaysiaPresentWaterhouse (1993)
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent, WidespreadMansor (1991); Revilla et al. (1991)
MyanmarPresentHolm et al. (1979)
North KoreaPresentHolm et al. (1979)
PhilippinesPresentWaterhouse (1993)
Saudi ArabiaPresentAl-Kahtani et al. (2007)
SingaporePresent, WidespreadRevilla et al. (1991)
Sri LankaPresentUK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Collected by Walker
TaiwanPresentHolm et al. (1979)
ThailandPresent, WidespreadPholprasith et al. (1978); Waterhouse (1993)
TurkeyPresent, WidespreadBates et al. (1984)
VietnamPresentWaterhouse (1993)

Europe

AustriaPresent, WidespreadWychera et al. (1990)
BelgiumPresentHolm et al. (1979)
CroatiaPresentBogut et al. (2010)
CzechoslovakiaPresent, WidespreadPokorný and Rejmánková (1983)
Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresentHolm et al. (1979)
FinlandPresent, WidespreadToivonen (1985)
FrancePresent, WidespreadBornette et al. (1994); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)
GermanyPresent, WidespreadVoge (1986); CABI (Undated)
GreecePresentPapastergiadou and Babalonas (1993)
HungaryPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Original citation: Karpati et al. (1985)
ItalyPresent, WidespreadPiccoli and Gerdol (1983)
LithuaniaPresentTraĭnauskaĭte and Yankyavichyus (1994)
NetherlandsPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated);
North MacedoniaPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated);
PolandPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated b)
PortugalPresentHolm et al. (1979)
RussiaPresentHolm et al. (1979)
SlovakiaPresentCABI (Undated)Original citation: Othacek~ahel'ová and Othacek~ahel' (2006)
SpainPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-Balearic IslandsPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated b)
SwedenPresentHolm et al. (1979)
UkrainePresentKharchenko et al. (2008)
United KingdomPresent, WidespreadMoss et al. (1986); Thomas and Daldorph (1994)

North America

BermudaPresentHolm et al. (1979)
CanadaPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-AlbertaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-British ColumbiaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-ManitobaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-New BrunswickPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-Northwest TerritoriesPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-Nova ScotiaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-OntarioPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-Prince Edward IslandPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-QuebecPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-SaskatchewanPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-YukonPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
CubaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveLowden (1978); Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012)
MexicoPresentUK, Kew Herbarium (2010)Collected by H. Schopfel
PanamaPresentHolm et al. (1979)
Puerto RicoPresentLowden (1978)
United StatesPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresent, WidespreadBoyd and McGinty (1981)
-AlaskaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-ArizonaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-ArkansasPresent, WidespreadBailey and Boyd (1972); Kilambi and Zdinak (1980); Kilambi and Zdinak (1981)
-CaliforniaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-ColoradoPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-ConnecticutPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-DelawarePresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-FloridaPresent, WidespreadBlackburn et al. (1973); Campbell and Irvine (1977)
-GeorgiaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-HawaiiPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-IdahoPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-IllinoisPresent, WidespreadCABI (Undated);
-IndianaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-IowaPresent, WidespreadMitzner (1976); Westerdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-KansasPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-KentuckyPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-LouisianaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988); CABI (Undated)
-MainePresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MarylandPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MassachusettsPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MichiganPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MinnesotaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MississippiPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MissouriPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-MontanaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-NebraskaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-NevadaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-New HampshirePresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-New JerseyPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-New MexicoPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-New YorkPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988); CABI (Undated)
-North CarolinaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-North DakotaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-OhioPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-OklahomaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-OregonPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-PennsylvaniaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-Rhode IslandPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-South CarolinaPresent, WidespreadBoyd and McGinty (1981); Westerdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-South DakotaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-TennesseePresent, WidespreadSantha et al. (1974); Westerdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-TexasPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-UtahPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-VermontPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-VirginiaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-WashingtonPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-West VirginiaPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)
-WisconsinPresent, WidespreadSerns (1977); CABI (Undated);
-WyomingPresent, WidespreadWesterdahl and Getsinger (1988)

Oceania

AustraliaPresent, WidespreadMitchell (1978)
FijiPresentHolm et al. (1979)
New ZealandPresent, WidespreadChapman et al. (1974); Wells and Clayton (1993)
Papua New GuineaPresent, WidespreadOsborne and Polunin (1986); UK, Kew Herbarium (2010)

South America

ArgentinaPresent, WidespreadDorna (1974)
BrazilPresentCABI (Undated a)Present based on regional distribution.
-AmazonasPresentLorenzi (1982)
-GoiasPresentLorenzi (1982)
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentLorenzi (1982)
-Minas GeraisPresentLorenzi (1982)
-ParaPresentLorenzi (1982)
-ParanaPresentLorenzi (1982)
-Santa CatarinaPresentLorenzi (1982)
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi (1982)
ColombiaPresentHolm et al. (1979)

Habitat

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In general, C. demersum occurs in quiet or slow flowing, hard calcareous, nutrient-rich or eutrophic waters of streams, ditches ,canals, ponds and lakes as a near free-floating aquatic plant where it may form large masses. It is especially favoured by nitrate-rich conditions where it grows in greater abundance (Goulder and Boatman, 1971; Toetz, 1971; Best, 1980; Kulshreshta, 1982). It is a cosmopolitan species. Although the plant is considered rootless, it bears some appendages which assist in delaying movement around the shallower margins of lakes under the influence of, for example, wind fetch.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
 
Irrigation channels Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Lakes Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Reservoirs Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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C. demersum is a perennial, submerged aquatic angiosperm, branching but with a single branch produced per node. Roots are lacking, but leafy branches are sometimes modified as rhizoids; stems break easily and the pieces continue growth separately (Godfrey and Wooten, 1981).

In temperate regions, C. demersum plants perennate by dormant apices on the lake bottom, where these organs are covered by a layer of detritus. Dormancy is initiated in late summer and autumn when elongation growth of the lateral shoots ceases, and tightly clustered, dark-green leaves, which contain high levels of starch, are formed. The dormant apices remain attached throughout winter or become liberated, depending on the disintegration rate of the parent axis. In temperate regions, liberation of the hibernacula [winter buds] is an important means of dispersal, because water temperatures are too low for flowering and seed development. In late spring the axis elongates, the leaves expand and a new plant starts to grow.

During growth the plants tend to concentrate most of their biomass in the upper half of their height and often reach the water surface. At the end of the growth season, the plants senesce rapidly and, in doing so, lose substantial amounts of nutrients (Pomogyi et al., 1984). Decomposition of the plant material proceeds rapidly: most of the dead plant biomass decomposes and disintegrates  before the next growth season starts, leaving only and a small fraction of organic matterial in the water body (Best et al., 1990). Phenological cycle, growth and primary production have been described (Sculthorpe, 1971; Best and Dassen, 1987 [and citations therein]). Photosynthesis has been investigated intensively (Carr, 1969; Van et al., 1976; Best and Meulemans, 1979; Fair and Meeke, 1983; Sand-Jensen and Madsen, 1991). A simulation model to calculate biomass formation has been developed by Best and Jacobs (1990).

Flowering does occur in warmer areas: for example, seeds were abundant in Papua New Guinea (Osborne and Polunin, 1986). Pollen transport is hydrophilous [via water]: recent studies indicate that, at the population level, hydrophilous taxa have a lower percentage of polymorphic loci, fewer alleles per locus, and lower levels of heterozygosity than non-hydrophilous plants. These patterns may be explained by limited sexuality, extensive vegetative spread and the greater isolation of freshwater populations (lakes may be considered as 'islands') relative to most terrestrial plant species and to coastal species such as Zostera marina (Les, 1991; Barrett et al., 1993; Laushman, 1993).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
60 55

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Conductivity (µmhos/cm) 200 1000 Optimum 2000 tolerated
Depth (m b.s.l.) 1 Optimum 3+ tolerated
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 20 300 Optimum <20 to >400 tolerated
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 Optimum 0.05 seawater tolerated
Velocity (cm/h) 0 400 Optimum >500 tolerated
Water pH (pH) 7 8.5 Optimum 8.5-10 tolerated
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 10 25 Optimum 4-26 tolerated, but probably temperature adaptive

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Ctenopharyngodon idella Predator
Hirschmanniella caudacrena Parasite
Mycoleptodiscus terrestris Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Triploid grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) were successfully used to control water weeds including C. demersum, in waterlily production ponds in Brookshire, and in Lake Conroe, both in Texas, USA (Martyn et al., 1986; Santha et al., 1994), in Iowa, USA (Mitzner, 1976), and in Thailand (Pholprasith et al., 1978). Grass carp also proved useful in tropical areas, such as Egypt (Khattab and El-Gharably, 1986).

The larvae of Parapoynx diminutalis, an Asian pyralid moth adventive on Hydrilla verticillata, were able to remove considerable C. demersum biomass (Buckingham and Bennett, 1989). The nematode Hirschmanniella caudacrena may be pathogenic to C. demersum (Gerber et al., 1986; Gerber and Smart, 1987).

Several fungi have been tested to control aquatic weeds. Mycoleptodiscus terrestris, a microbial herbicide candidate for Myriophyllum spicatum, also proved pathogenic to C. demersum when applied as alginate beads (Verma and Charudattan, 1993).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Fisheries Yes
Flooding and other natural disasters Yes
Garden waste disposal Yes
Hitchhiker Yes Yes
Internet sales Yes
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes
Pet trade Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stockFragments with stocking/on nets Yes Yes
Floating vegetation and debrisErratic, flood events Yes
Land vehiclesOn wheels, tracks or in attached mud etc. of excavation vehicles Yes
Pets and aquarium speciesCasual introductions and discarded material Yes
Water Yes

Environmental Impact

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When water is disturbed, it is quite common for native species to increase their growth and become a threat to human use of the water body. Frequently, disturbance results from an increase in the trophic level of the water or the substrate. C. demersum has become locally troublesome on several occasions (Cook, 1990). It is one of the 26 aquatic vascular plant species that Cook (1985) characterized as 'very widespread'. It affects fish production in Thailand (Chomchalow and Pongpangan, 1973).

Several reports indicate that C. demersum may exert allelopathic effects on its environment. Most workers have studied the effects of plant extracts and often have not considered whether these allelopathic substances actually leave the live plants and exert their effects in situ. For example, aqueous extracts showed inhibitory effects on seed development of test plants, such as Lepidium sativum (Kleiven and Scepanska, 1988) and on seedling radicle growth of lettuce cv. Black Seeded Simpson (Elakovich and Wooten, 1989). Elemental sulphur has been shown to be present inside the plant and, on release, can be very toxic to, for example, periphyton (Wium-Andersen et al., 1983).On the other hand, C. demersum was sensitive to the presence of Hydrilla verticillata in its neighbourhood (Kulshreshta and Gopal, 1983).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Conflict
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts cultural/traditional practices
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Filtration
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Environmental

  • Wildlife habitat

General

  • Ornamental
  • Pet/aquarium trade

Materials

  • Manure
  • Mulches

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Control


The management and control of aquatic weeds has already been much discussed, and the extensive literature increases as work continues particularly in such volumes of the European Weed Research Society, the North American Lake Management Society. Interesting overviews of applications, equipment and chemicals used to control aquatic weeds in various parts of the world are given in several specialist chapters in Pieterse and Murphy (1990).

In Europe, a wide range of attitudes to aquatic weed management currently exists and EU law is continually under review. Thus, certain countries do not permit any use of aquatic herbicides (e.g. Denmark), or severely restrict herbicide use in freshwater systems (e.g. The Netherlands), even if they suffer serious problems of aquatic weed growth. These countries rely instead on mechanical control supplemented by the use of biological agents, almost exclusively grass carp. Such countries usually have influential nature conservation lobbies, generally tend to restrict the use of herbicides in non-agricultural systems in order to minimize environmental contamination, and are prepared to pay for plant management regimes which exclude the use of herbicides.

In contrast, the countries of southern and south-eastern Europe such as Italy, Portugal, Hungary and the Balkan area currently take a more pragmatic approach to the control of aquatic weeds in areas of vital economic importance, such as irrigated cropland, and use a full range of chemical, mechanical or manual and biological control measures. The attitude and approach of most European and Australasian countries are intermediate between the extremes described above. Most Asian and African countries follow the same approach as south-eastern Europe. In the USA and Canada at present, the use of herbicides to control aquatic weeds predominates; however, other, more 'environmentally friendly' alternatives are intensively sought, such as shading or reducing the light penetration of water, restricting nutrients or environmental manipulation of water flow, channel shape, etc.

Chemical control

C. demersum could be controlled using the following herbicides: dichlobenil, diquat, diquat + complexed copper, endothal dipotassium salt, endothal + complexed copper, endothal dimethylalkylamine salts (rated as 'excellent'); fluridone, simazine (rated as 'good'); 2,4-D (rated as 'fair') (Westerdahl and Getsinger, 1988). Examples of applications can be found in the literature (Mixon, 1974; Baker et al., 1975; Serns, 1977; Best and Van de Wittenboer, 1978; Patnaik and Das, 1981; Arsenovic et al., 1982; Khattab and El-Gharably, 1986; Wells et al., 1986; Wells and Clayton, 1993).

Mechanical control

Mechanical harvesting has proved sufficient to control C. demersum stands in some temperate areas. The timing of cutting was not critical in The Netherlands (Jacobs and Best, 1990), but harvesting in July gave the best control in Wisconsin, USA (Engel, 1990).

Biological control

Triploid grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) were successfully used to control water weeds, including C. demersum, in waterlily production ponds in Brookshire, and in Lake Conroe, both in Texas, USA (Martyn et al., 1986; Santha et al., 1994), in Iowa, USA (Mitzner, 1976), and in Thailand (Pholprasith et al., 1978). Grass carp also proved useful in tropical areas, such as Egypt (Khattab and El-Gharably, 1986).

However, palatability of this plant  is an issue for grass carp as C. demersum is not high on prefered list of species eaten .In one case when other aquatic plants were available it was not grazed (Pine and Anderson, 1991), but it was grazed on other occasions (Cassani, 1981; Fowler, 1984), although not preferred (Chapman and Coffey, 1971; Edwards, 1975; Colle et al., 1978; Kilambi and Zdinak, 1980; Cassani and Caton, 1983). The rather low efficiency with which the plant material was converted into fish biomass may explain why the fish did not prefer this plant (Venkatesh and Shetty, 1978a, b, c; Kilambi and Zdinak, 1981; Hajra, 1987).

The larvae of Parapoynx diminutalis, an Asian pyralid moth
adventive on Hydrilla verticillata, were able to remove considerable C. demersum biomass (Buckingham and Bennett, 1989). The nematode Hirschmanniella caudacrena may be pathogenic to C. demersum (Gerber et al., 1986; Gerber and Smart, 1987).

Several fungi have been tested to control aquatic weeds. Mycoleptodiscus terrestris, a microbial herbicide candidate for Myriophyllum spicatum, proved pathogenic to C. demersum when applied as alginate beads (Verma and Charudattan, 1993).

Environmental Manipulation

More 'environmentally friendly' alternatives should be more intensively sought. Modifying the channel environment, however small a change and wherever possible, all helps to reduce aquatic plant growth. Demonstrated effects include reducing direct sunlight by correctly-orientated marginal shade from vegetation, or even artificial materials near the water surface or also reducing in the light penetration of water (Dawson, 1986). Environmental changes may include manipulation of water flow periodic or regular brief increases in water flow to washout out less stable vegetation or substrates, restructuring or reshaping,channel shape, etc. (Dawson and Brabben, 1991; Bolton and Dawson, 1992).

 

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Ticku A; Zutshi DP, 1991. Effect of weed harvesting on the fish population of Dal Lake. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 17(3):217-224.

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Toivonen H, 1985. Changes in the pleustic macrophyte flora of 54 small Finnish lakes in 30 years. Annales Botanici Fennici, 22(1):37-44.

Trainauskaite I; Yankyavichyus K, 1994. Heated water effect on macrophyte development in Lake Drukiai (the Ignalina NPP water reservoir-cooler). Ekologija, No. 1:37-45.

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Venkatesh B; Shetty HPC, 1978. Studies on the growth rate of the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella Valenciennes) fed on two aquatic weeds ad libitum. Mysore Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 12(4):622-628.

Verma U; Charudattan R, 1993. Host range of Mycoleptodiscus terrestris, a microbial herbicide candidate for eurasian watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum. Biological Control, 3(4):271-280.

Voge M, 1986. Tauchuntersuchungen an Gesellschaften von Ceratophyllum demersum. Limnologica, 17:67-77.

Waisel Y, 1972. Phenology and vegetative reproduction in some submerged water weeds. Proceedings 4th Israeli Weed Control Conference, Rehovoth, 1970., 7.

Waterhouse DF, 1993. The Major Arthropod Pests and Weeds of Agriculture in Southeast Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 21. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 141 pp.

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Wells RDS; Clayton JS, 1993. Evaluation of endothal for aquatic weed control in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Forty Sixth New Zealand Plant Protection Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand, August 10-12, 1993., 102-106.

Wells RDS; Coffey BT; Lauren DR, 1986. Evaluation of fluridone for weed control in New Zealand. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, 24:39-42.

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Westlake DF; Dawson FH, 1986. The management of Ranunculus calcareus by pre-emptive cutting in southern England. Proceedings, 7th international symposium on aquatic weeds., 395-400.

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Yadava NK; Pahuja SS; Bhatnagar A, 1993. Toxicity of herbicides on fingerlings (Labeo rohita Hamilton) and weeds in pond. Integrated weed management for sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of an Indian Society of Weed Science International Symposium, Hisar, India, 18-20 November 1993., Vol. III:250-253.

Zutshi DP; Vass KK, 1976. Ecology of macrophytic vegetation of Kashmir Lakes. Aquatic weeds in S.E. Asia. Proceedings of a Regional Seminar on Noxious Aquatic Vegetation, New Delhi, 1973., 141-146.

Distribution References

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Organizations

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Netherlands: European Weed Research Society - EWRS, Postbus 29, NL-6865 ZG Doorwerth, http://www.ewrs.org

UK: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology - CEH, CEH Wallingford, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Walingford, Oxfordshire, http://www.ceh.ac.uk/

UK: Environment Agency, National Customer Contact Centre PO Box 544, Rotherham S60 1BY, http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/

Contributors

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14/01/2008 Updated by:

Hugh Dawson, CEH Wallingford, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK

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