What Ontario is Doing
To prevent this unwanted invader from coming into the province, Ontario has regulated Parrot Feather as prohibited under the Invasive Species Act. For more information on the Invasive Species Act and Regulations visit www.ontario.ca/invasionON.
Parrot Feather is an invasive perennial aquatic plant native to South America. It was introduced to North America around 1890 as an aquarium and aquatic garden plant. Due to intentional and accidental releases it was able to escape into waterways and spread by plant fragments. Parrot Feather is limited to non-tidal waters including lakes, ponds and slow moving streams. The populations found in North America are female plants and as a result can only reproduce vegetatively. Parrot Feather is commonly sold in stores as an aquarium plant and is often not disposed of properly.
Parrot Feather ranges in at least 26 states throughout the United States. In Canada populations have been found in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and in Midhurst, Ontario. The population in Midhurst was found in an isolated pond and was successfully eradicated in 2006.
Impacts of Parrot Feather
The impacts of Parrot Feather are highly contributed to the dense mats that are formed, including
- Clogging waterways.
- Displacing native vegetation.
- Affecting recreational activities such as boating, swimming and fishing.
- Creating stagnant waters increasing breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
How to Identify Parrot Feather
- Herbaceous, submerged aquatic plant reaching 2-5 m.
- Leaves are whorled and feather-like with 20-30 segments per leaf.
- Submersed leaves are 1.5-3.5 cm long and emergent leaves are 2-5 cm long and much greener.
- Flowers in axils of emergent leaves, forming a terminal spike above water.
- Only female white flowers are known to occur in North America.
What You Can Do
- Learn how to identify Parrot Feather and how to prevent the introduction or spread of this plant with your watercraft or fishing equipment.
- Never buy, plant or keep Parrot Feather in your aquarium or water garden. It is against the law to buy, sell, trade, possess or transport Parrot Feather.
- Never deposit unwanted aquarium or water garden plants into Ontario lakes or rivers. Dispose of them in the garbage or away from any body of water.
- Avoid infested areas and reduce your speed if travelling near Parrot Feather infestations. Your propeller can break off fragments and spread the pieces to new areas. New plants can grow from small fragments of the plant.
- Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment after each use, be sure to remove all plants, animals and mud before moving to a new water body.
- If you have any information about the illegal importing, distribution or sale of Parrot Feather, report it immediately to the MNRF TIPS line at 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667) toll-free anytime. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
- If you’ve seen Parrot Feather or other invasive species in the wild, please contact the toll free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, or visit EDDMapS Ontario to report a sighting.
OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2016). Parrot Feather. Retrieved from: www.invadingspecies.com.
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Header photo by Richard Old, XID Services Inc, Bugwood.org