Alligator weed Facts

Alligator weed Facts
Alligator weed is herbaceous plant that belongs to the amaranth family. It originates from South America, but it can be found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world today. Alligator weed grows in canals, lakes, swamps, rivers and poorly drained areas. It is classified as noxious weed in more than 30 countries. Alligator weed easily occupies new areas and seriously disturbs ecological balance in the newly conquered habitats. People apply various physical (physical removal), chemical (herbicides) and biological methods (introduction of beetles that feed on the leaves of this plant) to eradicate alligator weed from the occupied spaces.
Interesting Alligator weed Facts:
Alligator weed is semi-aquatic plant. It can reach 24 inches in height and 33 feet in length. Alligator weed floats on the surface of water thanks to its hollow stem. Besides in the water, alligator weed can grow on the solid ground. Stem is less hollow and much shorter outside the water. Young plants have light green or reddish stem.
Alligator weed produces large, dense mats made of interwoven stems. Created "raft" can be 3 feet thick and strong enough to support the weight of adult man.
Alligator weed produces thin, short roots from the nodes on the stem when plant grows in the water. Root system of terrestrial plants is strong, robust, rhizome-like and able to penetrate 20 inches in depth.
Alligator weed has shiny, elliptical, dark green leaves with entire margins and pointed tips. Leaves are smooth, sessile (without leaf stalks) and oppositely arranged on the stem.
Alligator weed produces small, silvery-white flowers arranged in the ball-like terminal clusters. Flowers grow on the short stalks from the axils of leaves.
Alligator weed blooms from the late spring to the early autumn.
Fruit of alligator weed is small brownish capsule filled with one smooth, oval seed.
Alligator weed propagates via seed and via division of the stem and root.
Alligator weed grows especially fast during the warm periods of the year. Bulldozers, boats, watercrafts and animals easily detach green parts of the plant and transport them from one location to another.
Alligator weed produces dense mats on the surface of water and prevents growth of native plant species and commercially important crops such as soybean, sugar cane and rice.
Mosquitoes deposit their eggs in the alligator weed. Uncontrolled growth of alligator weed means more disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Alligator weed can induce floods through clogging canals and other waterways.
Dense mats formed on the surface of the water reduce amount of light and oxygen in the water and negatively affect survival of the fish and water birds.
Consumption of alligator weed can induce photosensitization of cattle and lesions on the skin after exposure to the sun.
Alligator weed is perennial plant (lifespan: more than 2 years).

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