NANFA-- Milfoil Update/Wintering Pond Plants

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Fri, 17 Nov 2000 01:16:43 -0500


Got around to cleaning off the Cabomba and Myriophyllum farwellii.

Too bad I didn't have experience with this new species before I wrote
the article on milfoils and sent it to Shireen about a year or so ago, I
was kind of surprised to find that it and my barley straw article are
appearing now in Currents. Too bad considering that since then I've
learned lots of more stuff about both!

The M. farwellii- Farwell's Milfoil we collected from the marsh has an
interesting habit unlike the other species that I'm familiar with. When
winter comes on, it forms winter buds just like Water Marigold
(Megaladonta beckii) and most species of bladderwort. This could have
something to do with the fact that this is a northern plant. Most of the
other Milfoils actually grow during the winter and resprout vigorously
when cut back - this being a plus for replacing older growth which often
gets choked with epiphytic algae inspite of treatment of the pond with
barley straw. M. heterophyllum - Variable Milfoil - AKA Red-stem Foxtail
of the aquarium trade (also comes in a green stemmed form)- M. pinnatum-
the true Green Foxtail - also called Cutleaf or Eastern Milfoil & Low
Milfoil - M. humile (which I have Shireen to thank for getting me
interested in) tend to be southern or coastal in distribution and do not
die back or form winter buds - likewise for M. verticillatum - the
Whorled Milfoil even though it has a more northern range.

Winter buds or "turions" as they are called by botanists are the rule
for the bladderworts with sub-boreal ranges but the two species that
produce flowers supported by floats- Utricularia inflata- the Floating
Bladderwort & the smaller edition U. radiata do not - opting for a
slower, more compact growth during the winter. These like many of the
Milfoils have more southern ranges but also grow in the north. I'm
guessing that in my climate there is an overlapping where both types of
strategies in aquatic plants is successful.

The production of winter buds is interesting but it complicates the
management of an ornamental pond slightly. In the wild it is a good way
for plants to disperse themselves. In my pond however there is danger
that the turions will be scattered around and many will be accidentally
discarded during spring cleaning operations. So I've oppted to pull the
planters of these species before the turions start breaking loose and
collect them myself. The turions are being stored in fine mesh lingere
or sweater bags with a stone to sink them in the pond while the old
growth is thrown on the compost pile and the planters with growing
medium left intact and stacked together under a tarp to be reused come

This method is intended to keep the turions together and organized in
the pond environment where they will keep until after I do spring
cleaning. Then it should be safe. Also this practice as well as cutting
back most of the other plants and cleaning out as many fallen leaves as
possible cuts down on the amount of superfloss organic matter in the
pond - which can decay and give off gases harmful to the fish as well as
contribute to algae blooms in the spring. Likewise for having planters
that are leaching nutrients into the water that are not supporting any
active plant growth.

The species that I am bagging up are M. farwellii, Megaladonta beckii,
Utricularia macrorhiza (syn U. vulgaris) U. gemniscarpa & U. intermedia.
I've also pulled the Cabomba and cut off about 4 - 6 inches of the
newest growth to store in similar fashion because I've noticed that it
tends to replentish better from peices with terminal buds that reside in
deeper water than the plants themeslves.

Hornwort- or Coontail - Ceratopyllum sp. also perenniate in this manner
but the terminal buds tend to stay with the older growth which also
holds up fairly well so I will probably leave it alone. And speaking of
Coontail - I still remember reading in that book we leafed through at J
& J's Tranzplant Nursery which suggested it has algae inhibiting
chemical properties. Definitely worthy of future investigation.
Hopefully it might augment the effects of barley straw.

Next season should prove interesting.


I think I will forward this to the list as well since it does update the
Milfoil article a bit. It just goes to show how much there is to learn
in this interesting past time of ours!

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