The Invasive Water Chestnut

First introduced to North America in the 1870’s, water chestnut can be found in ponds, lakes, and rivers. This invasive plant has been found in forty-three counties in New York, including Warren, Allegany, and even at our local Jamestown Audubon’s “Big Pond”. In fact, me and the rest of the Project Wild America Youth Ambassador crew got to go to the Audubon to look for and pull water chestnuts. Seeing this invasive plant up close and getting to learn about it showed us how much a species like this could disrupt an ecosystems balance.

Their pond “Big Pond” is exactly like how the name sounds it would be. So it’s very important to manage and keep these chestnuts under control because this plant can multiply very rapidly. They can spread by the rosette and fruits detaching from the stem and floating to another area on currents. They can also spread by clinging on to floating objects and recreational watercraft. Water Chestnuts form thick mats of vegetation that can be very difficult for boats to get through; In addition, the vegetation shade out native aquatic plants that provide food and shelter to organisms in their habitats.

Common ways to manage this species is to hand-pull them, use harvesting machines, or chemical methods. Some ways I learned that help control this invasive water chestnut effectively are to clean, drain, and dry your watercraft equipment before and after each use. Overall, thoroughly clean your equipment to help prevent water chestnuts from spreading to other lakes or rivers.

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