Reservoirs, Lakes and Ponds

Eelgrass | Vallisneria americana

Vallisneria americana Michx: Tape grass, eel grass, water-celery. Hydrocharitaceae (frog's bit family). Native perennial. Plants are rooted in the substrate and consist of a cluster of stalkless, ribbon-like leaves that emerge from a compressed, hidden stem. The leaves, crisp to spongy and flexible, are 1 - 2 in (2.5 - 5 cm) wide and up to 7 ft (2.1 m) long, with one or both surfaces slightly curved; the tips are broadly pointed. They may extend horizontally when they reach the surface. Leaves differ from those of bur-reed, Spargania americanum, in lacking a prominent midrib or keel but having minute teeth along the margins. Individual cross-veins, perpendicular to the long edges, do not extend across the whole leaf width. Long slender flower stalks grow from the base of the leaves, each carrying a single tubular female flower to the surface for pollination; the stalks then coil to pull the flowers back underwater where the elongated fruits ripen. Vegetative reproduction is common via daughter plants produced on slender horizontal stolons. This plant is very valuable to wildlife but may require control in certain situations.