Stop the Spread: Hydrilla in the Ohio Lake Erie Basin

Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is an aquatic plant that is considered invasive. It is thought the plant likely made its way to Ohio through the aquarium trade, but we are not sure exactly how it made its way into our rivers, wetlands and lakes. What we do know is it spreads easily and grows quickly, producing a dense mat of stems that crowd out native plants, is expensive to treat, and inhibits swimming, fishing, and boating. The plant is easily confused with Brazilian Elodea and American Elodea, but can be distinguished by its tubers (thick 1 cm long tubers that grow in the sediment).

Cleveland Metroparks has received a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to track hydrilla and disseminate educational materials throughout the Ohio Lake Erie Basin, especially in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern. They will be focused on locating hydrilla in public waterbodies and initiating treatment on newly identified infestations.

How Can You Help?

  • Cleveland Metroparks needs as many eyes in the field as they can get. As our staff encounters retention basins we will be keeping an eye out for hydrilla and you can keep your eye out in your neighborhood as well. If you see plants that appear to be hydrilla, carefully remove the entire plant from the waterbody, take a picture and contact Mark Warman at Cleveland Metroparks at 216-346-2234. Replace the plant where you found it afterward. You can also upload observations to iNaturalist or EDDMapS.org.
  • You can also help by following good decontamination protocols. If you are boating, fishing, or wading in our aquatic environments, be sure to remove any visible plants and clean, drain, dry your equipment between sites. http://stopaquatichitchhikers.org
  • Lastly, spread the word. Tell your friends and let them know about the opportunity to help.

The good news is that it appears the populations of hydrilla in our region are small and not yet widespread. We are hopeful this grant supported survey will support that theory.

Blog author: Elizabeth Hiser, Natural Resources Coordinator

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