DNR removes high-threat aquatic invasive plant from Dearborn pond

Contact: Kile Kucher, 517-641-4903, ext. 243
Agency: Natural Resources

Sept. 18, 2015

Yellow floating heart, an aquatic invasive speciesMichigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff recently completed the removal of a high-threat aquatic invasive plant known as yellow floating heart (Nymphoides peltata), as part of the state’s Early Detection and Response program, a joint effort of the DNR and the departments of Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development.

The plant was found in a pond at the University of Michigan - Dearborn Environmental Study Area in Wayne County.

“Yellow floating heart is a rooted, aquatic perennial with floating leaves that are heart-shaped to almost round,” said Kile Kucher, aquatic invasive species coordinator in the DNR Wildlife Division. “It looks similar to the native white water lily and spatterdock (often called yellow pond lily), but can be identified by the distinctive yellow flower with five fringed petals.”

Kucher said that yellow floating heart is listed as a prohibited species in Michigan, making it illegal to possess, transport or release the plant within the state.

This sighting of yellow floating heart originally was reported through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network by Rick Simek, natural areas manager of the UM-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center. It’s suspected that the plant has been in this pond for 20 or more years. The property originally was owned by Henry Ford, and some university staff theorize that his wife, Clara, planted this species in the Rose Garden pond herself sometime before 1950.

Kucher said the presence of yellow floating heart is significant because it is the first record of the plant in Michigan. Yellow floating heart is listed on Michigan’s Invasive Species “Watch List” that includes priority species identified as being an immediate and significant threat to Michigan’s natural resources. The plant can spread rapidly, forming dense mats on the water’s surface, displacing native species and limiting fishing, boating and swimming. This plant threatens natural systems by changing community structure, excluding light availability to an ecosystem and reducing oxygen levels in the water.

DNR staff collected samples for verification and discussed treatment options with Simek prior to removal efforts, which concluded Tuesday. During the four-day effort, more than 1,000 pounds of this invasive plant were removed. Follow-up surveys of the surrounding area resulted in no additional sightings of the plant.

“It helps that the Rose Garden pond is isolated from other water bodies, reducing the possibility of spread,” said Kucher. “However, this location will be monitored for years to come to ensure the yellow floating heart seedbank is depleted and the plant does not spread to areas outside the Rose Garden pond.

The steps taken by the DNR will help to ensure this aquatic invasive plant is not spread or released into the natural environment. Kucher thanked Simek and the rest of the staff at the University of Michigan - Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center for their cooperation and continued partnership.

“The Rose Garden pond cleanup is a great example of how important it is for citizens to help the state’s invasive species efforts,” Kucher said, and encouraged the public to report invasive species through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website or smartphone app, found at www.misin.msu.edu.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.