Weed Alert: Lagarosiphon
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- Declared in NSW under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (Current Status)
Contacts and Further InformationIf you find this weed please help to prevent its further spread by contacting your local Council Weeds Officer or the nearest NSW Department of Primary Industries office immediately for positive identification and further assistance.
Alternatively call the NSW Weeds Hotline on
1800 680 244 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lagarosiphon (Lagarosiphon major)
Lagarosiphon is a perennial, aquatic plant that can dominate freshwater lakes, dams and slow-moving streams. It can grow from the bottom of a water body to the surface (up to a depth of to 6.5 m in clear water or 1 m in murky water) and form dense mats several metres thick at or just below the water surface. The mats displace native vegetation and stop light penetrating the water. It is known as an ‘oxygen plant’ for aquariums however dense infestations consume more oxygen than they produce. They reduce water quality and oxygen levels and have a negative impact on native aquatic animals.
Lagarosiphon is on Australia’s Alert List for Environmental Weeds (non-native plants in the early stages of establishment which are a threat to biodiversity and have the potential to cause serious environmental damage). Infestations choke waterways and reduce the potential for recreational use (e.g. swimming, fishing, boating) and commercial use (e.g. blocking intakes in hydro-electric systems, irrigation systems and outboard motors). As with other submerged aquatic weeds, infestations are extremely difficult to control.
During the late 1970s, lagarosiphon was found and eradicated from a few small dams near Melbourne and Newcastle. These infestations were believed to have originated from ornamental plants in aquariums or ponds. It has also been found in a Sydney aquarium and was intercepted entering Tasmania. A cultivated specimen was recorded in Queensland in 1990. Currently there are no known infestations in New South Wales (NSW).
Lagarosiphon is a native of southern Africa. It is found in high mountain streams and ponds. It grows best in clear, still or slow-moving fresh water with silty or sandy bottoms and in the cooler waters of the temperate zone (20°C–23°C with a maximum of 25°C). It prefers sheltered areas with high light intensity, and can tolerate high and low nutrient levels and alkaline pH.
Lagarosiphon has spread throughout the world as an aquarium plant and it is a naturalised weed in England, the Channel Islands, northern France and Italy. It is a major water weed in both the north and south islands of New Zealand. Small fragments of this plant are frequently transported on boats and trailers and infestations are often first recorded at boat ramps.
Lagarosiphon spread in Australia has occurred by vegetative reproduction. Plant fragments break off and roots grow from the nodes (joints between the segments on the stem). It can move large distances downstream. It has not been known to produce male flowers, fruit or seed in Australia or outside its native range.
It is important to accurately identify lagarosiphon. It can be confused with other aquatic weeds, including Elodea canadensis, Egeria densa and Hydrilla verticillata. Unlike lagarosiphon whose leaves occur in alternate spirals along the stem, these three weeds have leaves that are clustered around the stem in whorls. Lagarosiphon has a thread-like root system which branches from the stem, anchoring plants to the bottom. Rhizomes (horizontal stems) are found in the sediment and also anchor the plant.
Key identification features
- Stems (3-5 mm in diameter and more than 5 m in length) may also be free-floating and able to reach the surface. They break easily, are sparsely branched and curved toward the base (J-shaped).
- Leaves (5-20 mm long and 2-3 mm wide) have finely toothed margins and are more closely spaced at the top of the stem than the bottom. The tapered leaf tips curve downwards towards the stem. When the water is less alkaline, the leaves are straight.
- Flowers are of two kinds. The very small (3 mm wide) female flower grows from a very thin white filament-like stalk. Its three petals appear clear-white or pale pink on the surface. The male flower breaks off and floats freely to the surface.
Your local council weeds officer will assist with identification and information on control, removal and eradication of this weed. Infestations can be spread by inappropriate control activities.
Lagarosiphon is a Class 1 State Prohibited Weed across NSW under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. It must be eradicated and land must be kept free of the plant. As a notifiable weed, all outbreaks must be reported to the local council within 24 hours, and the plant is prohibited from sale in NSW.
Adapted by AnDi Communications from the CRC for Australian Weed Management Weed Management Guide: Lagarosiphon.
Reviewed by Rod Ensbey; Edited by Elissa van Oosterhout