An invasive plant, which has been banned in Michigan since 2005, is being found in Michigan waters. It is believed the spread of the plant has been caused by people releasing it from aquariums and into the water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), an invasive aquatic plant, has been found in three private ponds in Michigan since 2013. The popular aquarium plant has been illegal to buy, sell or own in Michigan since 2005. The plant is sometimes sold under the name Brazilian watermilfoil and can be found for sale online.

Parrot feather prefers slow-moving, freshwater habitats including ponds, lakes and tributaries. The plants can grow to 6 feet and extend above or across the water’s surface. Parrot feather forms a dense mat of vegetation that blocks native plants, reduces fish habitat, and makes fishing and boating difficult.

Parrot feather has been eradicated at one location and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Water Resources Division is leading control efforts at the other two ponds.

If you remove parrot feather the wrong way, you will make the problem worse.

  • It only takes a small bit of parrot feather to create a big problem. New plants sprout from stem fragments. This means removal efforts like raking or pulling can make the problem even worse and encourage the plant to spread.

How to get rid of parrot feather if you have it:

  • If you have parrot feather in an aquarium, remove the plants, seal them in a plastic bag and dispose of them in the trash. Do not compost. Parrot feather can survive in compost.

What if you have parrot feather in a pond or other body of water?

  • Photograph it and send the photo, date and location to the MDEQ’s Aquatic Nuisance Control Program at DEQ-WRD-ANC@michigan.gov or call 517-284-5593.