Yellow Floating Heart is today’s invasive species of concern. This aquatic plant is a perennial invasive species native to Eurasia, and is now established on Long Island and in the Hudson valley. Floating Yellow Heart is named for its floating heart shaped leaves, 1-4” in diameter, that rest on the water’s surface, while attached to a stem rooted in the bottom sediment. It also has a five petaled yellow flower rising above its leaves on a separate stalk, the petals have a distinct straight center panel and ragged edges.
This plant spreads easily with its hairy seeds and through fragmentation. This means any plant part carried into a water body can grow into a new plant and start an entirely new colony. Once established, this plant grows densely, shading out other plants that grow below and making navigation through the water difficult for boaters and swimmers. Yellow Floating Heart colonies also stagnate the water, lowering oxygen levels for fish and lake dwellers and creating ideal habitat for breeding mosquitoes.
To prevent this invasive from making its way to Central New York waters, remember to clean, drain, and dry your boats, including kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and paddle boards. All fishing gear should also be cleaned and dried either with a towel or by sitting in the sun for five days. Because of the nature of this plant any stray root or leaf attached to your gear is enough to transport the species. If you enjoy water recreation in Cortland County daily or occasionally invasive species prevention is something you need to be aware of if we hope to maintain the aquatic ecosystems we all love.
If you want to learn more about how to identify aquatic invasive species and measures to control them in New York State there will be a series of videos released on Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute Youtube channel this week. Every day a new 30 minute video will be release as part of NYS Invasive Species Awareness Week.