Environmental News

Minnesota Lake Infested With Invasive Plant Species

When property owners on Minnesota’s Lake Koronis saw an unusual amount of vegetation growing beneath the body of water’s surface, they reported the peculiarity to the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Good thing they did, reports CBS Minnesota. DNR officials confirmed Friday that the overgrowth is due to the presence of about 53 acres of the starry stonewort, a non-native plant that can choke out native vegetation as it spreads across the bottom of the lake.

The invasive algae first appeared in the United States in 1978 in the St. Lawrenece River and has since spread across the northeast. Minnesota isn’t alone in its stonewort sighting — Wisconsin reported the presence of the pesky plant this past year.

Michigan lakes have been battling the unwelcome guest for more than 10 years.

While the stonewort may be seen as a threat to local vegetation, the DNR’s stonewort page says that the plant “provides food for waterfowl and cover for fish.”

(The starry stonewort) provides food for waterfowl and cover for fish; also supports insects and other small aquatic animals, which are important foods for trout, bluegills, small mouth bass, and largemouth bass.

The stonewort is an advanced form of algae. It grows so long that its often confused with larger plants. Leaves are “light-green to bright-green in color” and the entire plant grows underwater.

Swimmers need not worry about the prolific little plant — the plant grows in “deep water” and they don’t interfere with boats or swimmers.

It’s best to leave these plants alone. Stoneworts typically grow in deep water where they do not interfere with boating or swimming.

Experts say the plant resembles muskgrass, but the main difference between the two plants is that muskgrass gives off a “strong musky odor” when it’s crushed, while starry stonewort has “translucent stems” which are filled with a Jello-like substance.

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