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Aquatic Plant ID

They go by different names. You may call them “weeds,” “grass” or “moss.” Aquatic plants are an integral part of the Tennessee River’s ecosystem, whether providing nutrients for the species at the bottom of the food chain, cover and ambush areas for largemouth bass or food source for the multitude of local waterfowl.

This guide provides information to help you understand when these plants are most productive, where they grow and—most importantly—help you identify them. Whether you are an angler, property owner or any other lake user, we invite you to learn more about the aquatic plants present in our Tennessee Valley region reservoirs.

The guide also offers season-by-season tips for fishing among these plants.

Floating and Floating Leaf Plants

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor), a non-native species, prefers to grow within stands of other vegetation. It is often found intermixed with other species, often resembling bright green clumps.

Brittle Naiad

Description

Brittle naiad is a submersed, bottom-rooted annual with bushy branching stems up to 6 feet long. Its stiff, recurved, coarsely toothed, opposite leaves are usually less than 1 inch long and less than 1/8 inch wide. Flowers occur in the leaf axils and lack sepals or petals. Both male and female flowers are found on the same plant. The fruits are green, about 1 inch long and banana shaped with rectangular pits arranged longitudinally and appearing like the rungs of a ladder.

Habitat

Brittle naiad is a non-native species introduced from Europe and now found in ponds, reservoirs, lakes and slow streams throughout the eastern United States. It can impair recreational water use but is an excellent source of food for waterfowl and, in low densities, can be a good habitat for fish. Brittle naiad is common in reservoirs and lakes across the Tennessee Valley region and is occasionally found in ponds. It often occurs with southern naiad, muskgrass and pondweeds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water. Unlike other naiads, though, the leaf whorls are very stiff and break off easily, thus the name brittle naiad.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad growing among other species in stagnant or slow-moving water. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Depth—0 to 8 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will grow rapidly in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up in the fall, earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels, causing water use problems, but is easy to manage before seed is produced.

Shoreline Plants

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor), a non-native species, prefers to grow within stands of other vegetation. It is often found intermixed with other species, often resembling bright green clumps.

Brittle Naiad

Description

Brittle naiad is a submersed, bottom-rooted annual with bushy branching stems up to 6 feet long. Its stiff, recurved, coarsely toothed, opposite leaves are usually less than 1 inch long and less than 1/8 inch wide. Flowers occur in the leaf axils and lack sepals or petals. Both male and female flowers are found on the same plant. The fruits are green, about 1 inch long and banana shaped with rectangular pits arranged longitudinally and appearing like the rungs of a ladder.

Habitat

Brittle naiad is a non-native species introduced from Europe and now found in ponds, reservoirs, lakes and slow streams throughout the eastern United States. It can impair recreational water use but is an excellent source of food for waterfowl and, in low densities, can be a good habitat for fish. Brittle naiad is common in reservoirs and lakes across the Tennessee Valley region and is occasionally found in ponds. It often occurs with southern naiad, muskgrass and pondweeds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water. Unlike other naiads, though, the leaf whorls are very stiff and break off easily, thus the name brittle naiad.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad growing among other species in stagnant or slow-moving water. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Depth—0 to 8 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will grow rapidly in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up in the fall, earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels, causing water use problems, but is easy to manage before seed is produced.

Submersed Plants

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor), a non-native species, prefers to grow within stands of other vegetation. It is often found intermixed with other species, often resembling bright green clumps.

Brittle Naiad

Description

Brittle naiad is a submersed, bottom-rooted annual with bushy branching stems up to 6 feet long. Its stiff, recurved, coarsely toothed, opposite leaves are usually less than 1 inch long and less than 1/8 inch wide. Flowers occur in the leaf axils and lack sepals or petals. Both male and female flowers are found on the same plant. The fruits are green, about 1 inch long and banana shaped with rectangular pits arranged longitudinally and appearing like the rungs of a ladder.

Habitat

Brittle naiad is a non-native species introduced from Europe and now found in ponds, reservoirs, lakes and slow streams throughout the eastern United States. It can impair recreational water use but is an excellent source of food for waterfowl and, in low densities, can be a good habitat for fish. Brittle naiad is common in reservoirs and lakes across the Tennessee Valley region and is occasionally found in ponds. It often occurs with southern naiad, muskgrass and pondweeds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water. Unlike other naiads, though, the leaf whorls are very stiff and break off easily, thus the name brittle naiad.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad growing among other species in stagnant or slow-moving water. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Depth—0 to 8 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will grow rapidly in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up in the fall, earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels, causing water use problems, but is easy to manage before seed is produced.