KALISPELL – A new invasive species has turned up in a western Montana lake.
The US Forest Service recently discovered a new colony of an aquatic invasive species in a few shallow bays at Holland Lake.
The Fragrant water lily was discovered in a few shallow bays of Holland Lake. It can spread rapidly and form dense mats that crowd out native plants and harm swimming beaches, according to a news release. The plant was first observed at the boat ramp.
“Last summer I observed one or two plants but wasn’t entirely sure which species this was. Now we have about 300 plants. This is a rapid invasion.” said Beth Gardner, Fisheries Biologist for the Flathead National Forest.
Gardner speculates the plant was accidentally introduced by a boat or kayak that was previously in Seeley Lake or Placid Lake. These lakes are infested with fragrant water lily and about 18 miles away.
Fragrant water lily can spread by seed or small fragments of roots. It is from the eastern United States and the plant has white flowers with more than 25 petals. Water lily species native to Montana have yellow flowers and fewer petals. The native species do not cause harm.
USFS personnel and volunteers with Swan Valley Connections began to eradicate the plant last week by hand pulling the leaves and flowers. Approximately 200 pounds of water lily leaves have been removed to date.
Swan Valley Connections are looking for volunteers from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Sept. 9th to help with the hand removal of the plant. Anyone who’s interested in helping out is asked to contact Rob Rich at Swan Valley Connections at (406) 754-3137.
All water users in Holland Lake are asked to be especially careful they do not spread the fragrant water lily any further. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is also reminding all watercraft users to “clean, drain, and dry”.
Additional information about the Fragrant water lily can be found here, including the following:
Flowers: The flowers range from 7.5-12.5 cm. wide having several broad, tapering petals that narrow toward the center. Petals are curved lengthwise forming a slight channel. The center has one pistil and is densely packed with bright yellow stamens.
Leaves: The leaves range from 10-30 cm. wide, are heart shaped and broadly rounded. The upper side is water repellant and glossy green. The underside is purplish-red.
Habitat: The fragrant water lily can be found in the still, relatively shallow water (5-7 ft.) of ditches, ponds, and similar water bodies that have silty, mucky beds.