This highly invasive, non-native aquatic plant ranks as the second most damaging aquatic weed worldwide. Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta), known as the green monster, is a serious threat to wetland ecosystems as it affects a multitude of different factors. While able to be contained in its native country of Brazil, the eradication of Giant Salvinia in the United States proves difficult with respect to legal herbicides.
Giant Salivinia has oblong floating leaves, approximately one-half to one and one-half inches long, with small vertical hairs on the upper surface. This exotic vegetation forms dense concentrations to create a compiled mat formation, often 3 feet in depth. In a time span of three months, with ideal conditions, a single plant can multiply to cover 40 square miles. With such an immensely rapid growth rate, Giant Salvinia can quickly take over a waterway, causing devastating and lasting results. These mats halt the penetration of sunlight into the water and, by doing so, eliminate native competition by smothering nearby plants and phytoplankton. Fish kills occur as a result of depleted oxygen levels due to the lack of phytoplankton, which in turn destroys the value of an area as waterfowl habitat. Along with natural consequences, Giant Salvinia has the potential to block entire waterways, preventing water vessel passage, whether for recreational or commercial purposes.
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act realizes the importance of and continues to work toward establishing a successful eradication method for Giant Salvinia. To aid in the prevention of Giant Salvinia expansion, consider discarding any plant fragments from boating equipment and vessels, as well as discarding garden and aquarium plants, in the garbage as opposed to water bodies.