The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Myriophyllum aquaticum
Myriophyllum aquaticum
(parrot feather)
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Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc.

Common name: parrot feather

Synonyms and Other Names: Brazilian watermilfoil, parrot’s feather, parrot-feather, parrotfeather, parrot feather watermilfoil, Enydria aquatica (Vell.), Myriophyllum brasiliense (Camb.), Myriophyllum proserpinacoides (Gillies ex Hook. and Arn.)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is heterophyllous, meaning it has both an emergent and submersed leaf form. Emergent leaves are whorled, stiff, and usually have 20 or more linear divisions (10 leaflet pairs) on each leaf (Godfrey and Wooten 1981). The leaves appear feather-like and grayish green and can extend to 30 cm above the water surface.

The submersed shoots, similar to those of Eurasian watermilfoil (M. spicatum), are comprised of whorls of four to six filamentous, pectinate leaves, 1.5 to 3.5 cm long, arising from each node (Mason 1957, Washington State Department of Ecology 2011). Submersed leaves are reddish orange. When the submersed shoots reach the water surface, plant growth changes and begins to creep along the water surface with extensive branching from nodes followed by vertical growth of emergent stems (Moreira et al. 1999).

Small, white flowers occur in the leaf axils on the emergent shoots and are approximately 1/16 inch long (Washington State Department of Ecology 2011). Parrot feather lacks structures for storage, dispersal, and perennation (e.g., tubers, turions, and winter buds), and therefore stolons serve all these functions (Sytsma and Anderson 1993).

Size: leaves 1.5 to 5 cm, stems up to 5 feet.

Native Range: Myriophyllum aquaticum is a native of the Amazon River basin in South America, including Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, as well as Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay (Washington State Department of Ecology 2011). It prefers to inhabit subtropical regions (Fernandez et al. 1993).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Myriophyllum aquaticum are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL1957201819Alabama; Buttahatchee; Cahaba; Choctawhatchee-Escambia; Coosa-Tallapoosa; Locust; Lower Chattahoochee; Lower Conecuh; Lower Coosa; Lower Tallapoosa; Lower Tombigbee; Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga; Middle Tennessee-Elk; Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub; Mobile Bay; Upper Alabama; Upper Choctawhatchee; Upper Conecuh; Wheeler Lake
AZ197020066Aqua Fria; Imperial Reservoir; Little Colorado; Lower Colorado; Middle Gila; Salt
AR1927202023Beaver Reservoir; Dardanelle Reservoir; Illinois; L'anguille; Little Missouri; Little Red; Lower Arkansas; Lower Arkansas-Maumelle; Lower Little Arkansas; Lower Mississippi Region; Lower Mississippi-St. Francis; Lower Neosho; Lower Ouachita-Bayou De Loutre; Lower Ouachita-Smackover; Lower Saline; Lower St. Francis; Lower White; Lower White-Bayou Des Arc; Middle White; Ouachita Headwaters; Upper Ouachita; Upper Ouachita; Upper Saline
CA1933201931Big Chico Creek-Sacramento River; Big-Navarro-Garcia; Butte Creek; Central California Coastal; Central Coastal; Coyote; Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather; Imperial Reservoir; Klamath-Northern California Coastal; Los Angeles; Lower Eel; Lower Sacramento; Mad-Redwood; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; North Fork Feather; Pajaro; Paynes Creek-Sacramento River; Russian; Salinas; San Diego; San Francisco Bay; San Francisco Coastal South; San Joaquin Delta; San Pablo Bay; Santa Ana; Tomales-Drake Bays; Upper Bear; Upper Cache; Upper Coon-Upper Auburn; Upper Tuolumne; Upper Yuba
CT200120105Housatonic; Lower Connecticut; Quinnipiac; Saugatuck; Shetucket
DE198020003Brandywine-Christina; Broadkill-Smyrna; Chincoteague
DC201220171Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan
FL1906202048Alafia; Apalachee Bay-St. Marks; Apalachicola; Apalachicola Bay; Aucilla; Big Cypress Swamp; Blackwater; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Chipola; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Econfina-Steinhatchee; Escambia; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Hillsborough; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Little Manatee; Lower Chattahoochee; Lower Choctawhatchee; Lower Ochlockonee; Lower St. Johns; Lower Suwannee; Manatee; Myakka; Nassau; New; Oklawaha; Peace; Perdido; Perdido Bay; Santa Fe; Sarasota Bay; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Southern Florida; St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays; St. Marys; Suwannee; Tampa Bay; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Vero Beach; Western Okeechobee Inflow; Withlacoochee; Withlacoochee; Yellow
GA1939202025Apalachicola Basin; Brier; Broad; Conasauga; Coosawattee; Cumberland-St. Simons; Etowah; Little; Lower Chattahoochee; Lower Flint; Middle Chattahoochee-Lake Harding; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Middle Savannah; Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga; Oostanaula; Suwannee; Tugaloo; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Coosa; Upper Flint; Upper Ocmulgee; Upper Oconee; Upper Ogeechee; Upper Suwannee; Withlacoochee
HI191920093Hawaii; Kauai; Oahu
ID192820076Clearwater; Lower Boise; Lower North Fork Clearwater; Payette; Pend Oreille Lake; Upper Snake-Rock
IL200820081Lower Ohio
IN200620142Kankakee; St. Joseph
KY198620156Lower Cumberland; Lower Kentucky; Lower Levisa; Upper Cumberland; Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland; Upper Green
LA1915202035Amite; Atchafalaya; Atchafalaya - Vermilion; Bayou Sara-Thompson; Bayou Teche; Black Lake Bayou; Boeuf; Bogue Chitto; Castor; East Central Louisiana Coastal; Eastern Louisiana Coastal; Lake Maurepas; Lake Maurepas; Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta; Louisiana Coastal; Lower Grand; Lower Mississippi; Lower Mississippi Region; Lower Mississippi-New Orleans; Lower Ouachita; Lower Ouachita; Lower Red; Lower Red-Lake Iatt; Lower Red-Ouachita; Lower Sabine; Mermentau; Mermentau Headwaters; Red-Saline; Red-Sulphur; Tickfaw; Upper Calcasieu; Vermilion; West Central Louisiana Coastal; West Fork Calcasieu; Whisky Chitto
MD195020175Gunpowder-Patapsco; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Patuxent; Upper Chesapeake Bay
MA191720193Cape Cod; Charles; Narragansett
MI196220186Detroit; Huron; Kalamazoo; Muskegon; St. Joseph; Upper Grand
MS1944201827Black; Black Warrior-Tombigbee; Bogue Chitto; Chunky-Okatibbee; Coldwater; Deer-Steele; Little Tallahatchie; Lower Big Black; Lower Leaf; Luxapallila; Middle Pearl-Strong; Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub; Mississippi Coastal; Noxubee; Pascagoula; Pascagoula; Pickwick Lake; Sucarnoochee; Tangipahoa; Tibbee; Upper Big Black; Upper Chickasawhay; Upper Leaf; Upper Pearl; Upper Tombigbee; Yazoo; Yocona
MO197719771South Grand
NJ189020197Cohansey-Maurice; Delaware; Lower Delaware; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Mullica-Toms; Raritan; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
NM194520181Rio Grande-Albuquerque
NY192920164Long Island; Northern Long Island; Rondout; Southern Long Island
NC1938202027Albemarle; Black; Cape Fear; Chowan; Contentnea; Deep; Haw; Lower Cape Fear; Lower Catawba; Lower Neuse; Lower Roanoke; Lower Tar; Lumber; Middle Neuse; New River; Pamlico; Pamlico Sound; Rocky; Tugaloo; Upper Cape Fear; Upper Catawba; Upper French Broad; Upper Neuse; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Tar; Waccamaw; White Oak River
OH194920194Ashtabula-Chagrin; Hocking; Lower Scioto; Muskingum
OK1964202010Deep Fork; Kiamichi; Lower Arkansas; Lower Canadian; Lower North Canadian; Neosho-Verdigris; Poteau; Red-Sulphur; Red-Washita; Upper Little
OR1900202022Alsea; Coast Fork Willamette; Coos; Illinois; Lower Columbia; Lower Rogue; Lower Willamette; Middle Willamette; Molalla-Pudding; Necanicum; Pacific Northwest Region; Siletz-Yaquina; Siltcoos; Siuslaw; Sixes; South Santiam; South Umpqua; Sprague; Umpqua; Upper Willamette; Willamette; Wilson-Trusk-Nestuccu
PA195019501Lower Susquehanna
SC1939202018Black; Congaree; Cooper; Edisto River; Edisto-Santee; Enoree; Lower Broad; Lower Catawba; Lower Savannah; Lumber; Middle Savannah; Ogeechee-Savannah; Salkehatchie; Saluda; Santee; Stevens; Upper Broad; Wateree
TN1941201816Collins; Guntersville Lake; Hatchie-Obion; Holston; Lower Cumberland; Lower French Broad; Lower Little Tennessee; Lower Tennessee; Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga; Middle Tennessee-Hiwassee; South Fork Holston; Stones; Upper Cumberland; Upper Elk; Upper Tennessee; Watts Bar Lake
TX1935202044Austin-Travis Lakes; Buchanan-Lyndon B. Johnson Lakes; Buffalo-San Jacinto; Caddo Lake; Cedar; Cibolo; Denton; East Fork Trinity; Elm Fork Trinity; Elm-Sycamore; Farmers-Mud; Lake Fork; Lake O'the Pines; Lake Texoma; Leon; Little Cypress; Lower Angelina; Lower Brazos-Little Brazos; Lower Colorado-Cummins; Lower Neches; Lower Sabine; Lower Sulpher; Lower Trinity; Lower Trinity-Kickapoo; Lower Trinity-Tehuacana; Lower West Fork Trinity; Middle Neches; Middle Sabine; Navasota; Nueces Headwaters; Pedernales; Pine Island Bayou; Rio Grande-Amistad; San Gabriel; San Marcos; Spring; Toledo Bend Reservoir; Upper Angelina; Upper Frio; Upper Neches; Village; West Fork San Jacinto; West Galveston Bay; Yegua
VA1967201815Albemarle-Chowan; Appomattox; Chowan - Roanoke; Conococheague-Opequon; Hampton Roads; James; Lower Chesapeake; Lower James; Lower Potomac; Lower Rappahannock; Middle James-Willis; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; North Fork Holston; Nottoway; South Fork Shenandoah
WA1971201814Grays Harbor; Lake Washington; Lower Chehalis; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Snake-Tucannon; Lower Yakima; Nisqually; Nooksack; Puget Sound; Skykomish; Snohomish; Upper Chehalis; Willapa Bay
WV197020152Tygart Valley; West Fork

Table last updated 10/15/2020

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Parrot feather grows well in shallow wetlands, slow moving streams, irrigation reservoirs or canals, edges of lakes, ponds, sloughs, or backwaters (Sutton 1985). Although it can grow in moist soil and tolerates a wide-range of water levels, parrot feather grows most rapidly in higher water levels (but has been documented in depths up to 16 ft; Banfield 2008) and high-nutrient environments (Hussner et al. 2009; Sutton 1985; Sytsma and Anderson 1993). Parrot feather requires rooting in bottom sediments, in habitats where light can penetrate to the bottom favor growth and colonization. Parrot feather thrives under slightly alkaline conditions (pH range 6.8-8.0), prefers temperatures between 16-23°C, and can withstand a water hardness level between 50-200 ppm (Federation of New Zealand Aquatic Societies, in Mabulu 2005). This species displays photosynthetic activity at pH levels of 6 to 8.5, depths of 0 to 10 meters, and temperatures from 10°C to 30°C, though it can survive even broader ranges (Robinson 2003; WIDNR 2011). It can also survive frequent inundation of salt water as long as concentrations remain below 4 ppt (Sutton 1985). Parrot feather is not seriously affected by frost (Moreira et al. 1999); however, a hard or extended period of frost may kill emergent shoots in northern latitudes (WIDNR 2011). Parrot feather can survive winters in its submersed form and begin growth when water temperatures reach 7°C (Moreira et al. 1999). Nevertheless, invasion tends to fail in areas with severe winters, because parrot feather does not store phosphorus or carbon in its rhizomes (Mabulu 2005).

Parrot feather is a dioecious species, however only pistillate (female) plants are found outside of South America. Staminate (male) plants are rare even in native populations of South America (Orchard 1981). For this reason, seed production is not known to occur (Aiken 1981) and reproduction is exclusively vegetative in North America (Orchard 1981). Reproduction occurs by fragmentation of emergent and/or submersed shoots, roots, rhizomes, or attached plant fragments (Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, UF/IFAS 2010; Les and Mehrhoff 1999; Mabulu 2005).

Parrot feather has an annual growth pattern, forming shoots in spring from overwintering rhizomes as water temperature increases. Rhizomes provide support for adventitious roots and buoyancy for emergent summer growth. Flowers usually appear in spring, or in fall for some plants. The plant usually dies back to its rhizomes in the autumn (Mabulu 2005).

Means of Introduction: Escaped ornamental pond plant.

Status: Established in North America.

Impact of Introduction: Dense infestations can rapidly overtake small ponds and sloughs, impeding water flow resulting in increased flood duration and intensity. Parrotfeather may also out-compete more desirable native macrophytes. Little information exists on the direct impact that parrotfeather has on fish and wildlife. Dense beds of parrotfeather have resulted in reductions in dissolved oxygen in the water column, which may be detrimental to fish (Fonseca 1984 cited in Moreira et al. 1999). Parrotfeather growth can inhibit the growth of more desirable plant species such as pondweeds and coontail (Ferreira and Moreira 1994), which are readily utilized by waterfowl as food items (Wersal et al. 2005). A strong correlation was determined between the density of parrotfeather growth and the presence of mosquito eggs and larvae (Orr and Resh 1989), which may lead to increases in mosquito born diseases that could infect wildlife and humans.


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Author: Wersal, R.M., E. Baker, J. Larson, K. Dettloff, A.J. Fusaro, D.D. Thayer, and I.A. Pfingsten

Revision Date: 5/4/2018

Citation Information:
Wersal, R.M., E. Baker, J. Larson, K. Dettloff, A.J. Fusaro, D.D. Thayer, and I.A. Pfingsten, 2020, Myriophyllum aquaticum (Vell.) Verdc.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=235, Revision Date: 5/4/2018, Access Date: 10/21/2020

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2020]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [10/21/2020].

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