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Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)

Giant salvinia

Many people relate the “Clean, Drain, Dry” campaign to zebra mussels. But did you know the practice of cleaning a personal watercraft after leaving a body of water is important to prevent the spread of other invasives as well – such as Giant Salvinia?

Giant salvinia, or Salvinia molesta, is a floating fern from Brazil. It was first identified in the Houston area in 1998. Later that same year, it was discovered in Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas’ largest water body, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Invasive species, which can be plants or animals, are not native to a particular area and can cause economic and ecological damage and impact human health. When non-native species are introduced, they have few natural predators, competitors, or diseases that regulate their populations.

The Brazos River Authority’s environmental services department regularly monitors different plants as a way of tracking the health of the Brazos River basin ecosystem.

The Giant Salvinia is considered one of the most problematic aquatic plants in Texas, according to TPWD. The invasive can damage aquatic ecosystems by outgrowing and replacing native plants that provide food and habitat for native animals and waterfowl. Due to its spread, it also blocks out sunlight and decreases oxygen concentrations. Giant Salvinia infestations can double in about a week under the right circumstances, according to TPWD.

In addition to its environmental impacts, aquatic invasive species can have economic impacts. According to TPWD, invasive plants, like giant salvinia and others, cost Texas billions of dollars annually, in lost property values, lost water, lost potential for power generation, and lost recreational opportunities.

With a status as an invasive plant, it is illegal to transport Giant Salvinia on boat trailers, boat motors, or live wells. Game Wardens are authorized to issue tickets for transport of salvinia species, as well as other prohibited plants.

If you have this plant and no longer want it, pile it onto a dry sunny surface, like the driveway, and let them dry out completely. Once completely dry, bag them in a sturdy plastic trash bag and dispose of in a landfill, according to the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

If you think you see this plant, call 1-877-STOP-ANS to report it.