Curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)

Curly-leaf pondweed illustration

Common names: Curly cabbage, crisp pondweed.

Location: Grows from the shore to depths of up to 15 feet.

Description: Leaves are somewhat stiff and crinkled, approximately 1/2-inch wide and 2 to 3 inches long; leaves are arranged alternately around the stem, and become more dense toward the end of branches; produces winter buds can be confused with claspingleaf pondweed.

Hints to identify: Has small "teeth" visible along edge of leaf; begins growing in early spring before most other pondweeds; dies back during midsummer; the flower stalks, when present, stick up above the water surface in June; appears reddish-brown in the water, but is actually green when pulled out of the water and examined closely. Easily confused with claspingleaf pondweed, which has leaves with no "teeth" around their edges.

Importance of plant: Provides some cover for fish; several waterfowl species feed on the seeds; diving ducks often eat the winter buds.

Management strategy: See DNR regulations. Like Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed is not native to the United States and often causes problems due to excessive growth. When control is necessary, herbicides and harvesting can be effective. Grants are available for control efforts on a lake-wide basis.

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