Wild Celery, scientifically known as Vallisneria americana and also popularly known as eelgrass and tapegrass, has become one of the most common aquatic plants in Indian Lake. Wild celery is a rooted aquatic plant with several long, thin, blade-like leaves emerging from the base of the plant. In Indian Lake, these leaves can grow to the surface of the water. During the summer, the plants will develop an elongate stem that rises to the water surface. The female flower is at the end of this stem and the stem will take on a corkscrew form following pollination. The leaves and the corkscrew flower stems can become a nuisance to recreation, particularly becoming entangled around boat motor propellers.
Once established in a lake, wild celery spreads through the production of seeds as well as by vegetative means. During the growing season, the plants will send out stolons through the sediment. These will develop buds that will produce new plants each spring. Some of these buds can be dislodged and be carried by wave action or currents to new locations.
Wild celery is a native plant to Michigan and is widely viewed as having a positive effect on wildlife and fish populations. Controlling wild celery is difficult. Its status as a native plant makes it more difficult to obtain permission from the Michigan EGLE to apply herbicides. The herbicides that could be used to kill wild celery are non-selective and will harm beneficial, nontarget plants as well.
Copper based herbicides can be used to delay the formation of the flower stalk but the delay is typically a month (from late July to late August). The cost for applying the copper based herbicides is approximately $500 per acre. To treat only 10% of Indian Lake will incur an estimated cost of $13,000.
Wild Celery abundance in Indian Lake has varied significantly over the years. Prior to 2017, the vegetation surveys conducted by PLM indicated that Wild Celery was to be found at low concentration. In 2017 and 2018, it was found to cover nearly 20% of the lake bottom. Since then, Wild Celery coverage has fallen to less than 10%.
Suggested control methods for swimming areas and around docks include mechanical methods like hand removal, digging, or covering the sediment with a dark sediment blanket.
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