Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides)
French common name: Aloès d’eau
Did you know? One of the only known water soldier populations in North America is in the Trent River in eastern Ontario.
Water soldier is similar in appearance to an aloe plant, spider plant, or the top of a pineapple. Water soldier can be mistaken for common native species such as bur-reed, arrowhead, or eelgrass.
The leaves of this plant are 40 cm long and shaped like thin swords with very sharp serrated edges. The leaves form a large circle and are bright green in colour. In Ontario water soldier rarely produces flowers. However, if present, the flowers are white with three petals.
Currently the largest population of water soldier is located in the Trent River in Ontario. It is extremely important that the population stays isolated and does not spread. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, with support from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Lower Trent Conservation, Parks Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks conduct monitoring and and input control measures to stop the spread of water soldier.
Map of invasive water soldier distribution in 2015 in the Lake Seymour area, Ontario (Canada), estimated by means of boat-based surveys (produced by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; © Queen’s Printer for Ontario 2015). Red zones, dense colonies; beige zones, scattered plants; yellow zones, single plants; black rectangle, study area where UAS aerial imagery was collected.
Water soldier has several negative impacts (Ontario, 2018):
– Forms dense mats of floating vegetation
– Crowds out native vegetation resulting in decreased plant biodiversity
– Has the potential to alter surrounding water chemistry, which may harm phytoplankton and other aquatic organisms
– Dense floating mats can hinder recreational activities such as boating, angling, and swimming
– Sharp serrated leaf edges can cut swimmers and individuals who handle this plants. Caution should be taken whenever handling the plant.
You can help prevent the spread of water soldier by learning how to identify it and avoid accidentally spreading it with your watercraft.
– Avoid infested areas or reduce your speed when traveling by infestations. Boat wake can dislodge plants and offsets and allow them to spread to new areas.
– Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment after each use. Remove all plants, animals, and mud before moving to a new waterbody.
– Avoid planting water soldier in your water garden or aquarium. Water gardeners should only use native or non-invasive plants and are encouraged to ask garden centers for plants that are not invasive.
In the province of Ontario, it is illegal to import, possess, deposit, release, transport, breed/grow, buy, sell, lease or trade water soldier under the Ontario Invasive Species Act.
Report sightings to the Invading Species Hotline 1-800-563-7711 or visit Invading Species.
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