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Wild Celery (Vallisneria americana)

Wild celery pondweed illustration Wild celery photo

Common names: Water celery, eelgrass, tapegrass.

Location: Lakes in depths up to 15 feet and streams; prefers semi-hard bottom such as sand covered with a thin layer of muck.

Description: Leaves are ribbon-like, dark-green, and grow below the water surface; rooted in mud; in late summer, produces a small, whitish-yellow flower, supported by a coiled stalk; often grows in beds amid pondweeds and other submerged plants.

Hints to identify: Unbranched leaves extending from the lake bottom to the water surface; flowers (and occasionally some leaves) float on the surface; leaves are attached to a horizontal central stem right above lake bottom.

Importance of plant: Provides shade and shelter for bluegills, young perch, and largemouth bass; choice food of waterfowl, particularly diving ducks; attracts muskrats, marsh birds, and shore birds.

Management strategy: See DNR regulations. Because wild celery is an excellent wildlife food, it is usually best left alone. Abundant growth during July and August in shallow water may interfere with recreation. Herbicides don't work well to control this plant. Hand-pulling or raking sometimes works, though floating, uprooted plants often re-establish themselves in shallow water.