Creature from the Green Lagoon

Texas Monthly, September 2017

The National Australian researchers have calculated that, given the right conditions, an M&M-size salvinia plant could blanket 39 square miles of water in just over three months. As the advancing front reaches maturity, it swells into a carpet of vegetation up to three feet thick, smothering other life in its path by consuming nutrients and blocking sunlight from penetrating the water below. Fish can’t survive. Native plants and amphibians struggle. Lake recreation halts as viny roots clog boat engines and become ensnared in propeller blades. In some areas, the dense layer of salvinia can even become a substrate for other opportunistic weeds, making it difficult to tell where the lake ends and the shore begins.