Officials: Invasive aquatic plant found in Macomb Twp. drain

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

An invasive aquatic plant that deprives water of oxygen and sunlight has been found in a Macomb Township drain, county officials said Tuesday.

The plant, called water lettuce, was detected in the township's McBride Drain, they said.

Water lettuce

The free-floating plant is on the state of Michigan’s invasive species watch list. Plants or animals on the list have been identified as posing an immediate or potential threat to the state's economy, environment or human health.

Found in slow-moving water, it easily disperses through water currents and creates thick mats that reduce oxygen levels, block sunlight, and prevent growth of underwater vegetation.

Last year, county officials removed more than 200 water lettuce plants from the Clinton River Watershed, they said. Additional plants were found near a residential area.

Officials continue to monitor those areas and work to prevent water lettuce from spreading.

They also encourage residents to remove any water lettuce plants from wild waters and place plants securely in the trash. 

"Water lettuce can be legally sold, purchased and grown in Michigan for use in water gardens or aquaria; however due to the invasive nature and ability to quickly spread response efforts are initiated anytime the plant is reported in public waterways," William Keiper, an aquatic biologist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's Water Resources Division.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez