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Alert sounded for aquatic weed possibly invading Lake Norman

The lake might have a new monster worse than Normie, Lake Norman’s legendary creature.
Salvinia Molesta, or Giant Salvinia as it is commonly known, may be creeping its way into Lake Norman.
If it’s not there yet, it may be just a matter of time.
The floating, rootless aquatic fern could quite possibly be the lake’s worst nightmare.
“It grows rapidly, spreading incredibly fast,” said Ken Manuel, Duke Power Biologist. “It is quite intense in a short period of time.”
The fern consists of horizontal stems that float just below the water surface and produce at each node a pair of floating or emergent leaves. The leaves are green in color and are about the size of one’s thumb. The plant also has a third leaf that is brown and dangles underwater.
Although it is not confirmed that it has been found on Lake Norman there is speculation that it might be out there.
There was a supposed sighting at an aquatic pond about 50 feet from Lake Norman about a year and a half ago.
The man spoke at a class in Charlotte for landscape architects and described to be what sounded like salvinia.
But before he could be questioned further, he disappeared.
Popular water gardens, water features or what are also known as lily ponds may in fact be the root of the problem. Many water gardens are close to lakes. Usually located in people’s backyards, water gardens can be decorated with many accessories. But some are not as welcoming as others.
“There is a good possibility that there is a water garden somewhere with salvinia in it,” Manuel said.
“To me the first place that it would go to would be Lake Norman since there are so many people living here,” he added.
Many people who decorate their aquatic ponds sometimes get the weed with the plants that they buy for their ponds.
When the plant begins to spread it buds off, packing each pad next to each other. But then it begins to stack itself and get thick.
“We don’t want to fool around with this plant,” Manuel said.
In fact, if anyone spots it or thinks they might see salvinia they are urged to contact their local cooperative extension service.
The plant can be spotted in any of the following places: quiet water of lakes and ponds, ditches, slow flowing streams and rivers, backwater swamps, marshes and rice fields.
So how does one get rid of it?
It’s not easy, Manuel said.
“What people don’t realize is that when an invasive plant like this takes over, it has to be disposed of properly,” Manuel said.
Disposal means a mulch pile or dumpster.
In order to tackle an issue that may become a problem, Manuel urges residents to do their homework.
“Go to the Center for Aquatic Plants Web site and study the pictures so you will know what it looks like,” he said.
If the plant was confirmed to be on the lake, Manuel said the Wildlife Resource Commission would immediately work on trying to eliminate it.
This would mean using a herbicide to try to minimize the impact.
Currently, Duke Power Mosquito Control has been training for six months to be on the lookout for the plant. The six members of the group will patrol the lake for aquatic weeds May to October.
“They travel around the shoreline every 10 days and are in shallow water constantly looking,” Manuel said.
Salvinia molesta is in North Carolina, close to the Wilmington area. It’s also been known to show up in nurseries where they sell aquatic plants for backyard water gardens. Its also been spotted at flea markets.
by Amy Wadsworth

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