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 known to occur 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.
For an up to date distribution map of parrot feather in Ontario, visit www.EDDMapS.org/distribution.
Impacts of Parrot Feather
The impacts of parrot feather are highly contributed to by the dense mats that are formed, including:
- Clogs waterways.
- Displaces native vegetation.
- Affects recreational activities such as boating, swimming, and fishing.
- Creates stagnant waters, increasing breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
How to Identify Parrot Feather
- Herbaceous, submerged aquatic plant reaching 2 to 5 m.
- Leaves are whorled and feather-like with 20 to 30 segments per leaf.
- Submerged leaves are 1.5 to 3.5 cm long and emergent leaves are 2 to 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 waterbody.
- Clean, Drain, Dry your boat, trailer, and equipment after each use. Remove all plants, animals, and mud before moving to a new waterbody.
- If you have any information about the illegal importation, distribution, or sale of parrot feather, report it immediately to the MNRF at 1-877-847-7667, toll-free anytime. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
- If you find parrot feather or another invasive species in the wild, please contact the toll-free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, visit EDDMapS, or search for the ‘Invasive Species in Ontario’ project on iNaturalist.org to report a sighting.
OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2021). Parrot Feather. Retrieved from: www.invadingspecies.com.
This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.
Header photo by Richard Old, XID Services Inc, Bugwood.org