This plant can be seen floating on the surface of the water or submerged completely in water. It is very similar in appearance to an aloe plant and looks like some other native aquatics such as eelgrass and arrowhead. The plant grows in thick mats which can take over large areas, overcrowding native species. The plant is usually found in shallower water under 5 meters. They can be free-floating or attached via roots to the bottom.
Native to Europe and Asia this aquatic plant is now wild in Ontario but in limited areas. Specifically the Trent-Severn waterway, however, it has proved to be a nuisance even in its limited range. Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, it is not known how it got introduced to natural water bodies but there is potential for its spread to be impactful in Ontario.
Impacts & Control
Currently, there are strict laws that prohibit any interaction with water soldier, banning possession, sale and any other interaction with the plant. To prevent the spread of this invasive plant, you should avoid boating in areas where water soldier is found, as waves and boat wakes can spread the plant. When pulling out your boat be sure to drain, clean and dry your vessel to ensure you are not inadvertently spreading it. This plant overcrowds native species and alters water chemistry. The plant’s sharp serrated teeth on the edges of the leaves are also dangerous for swimmers.