Salvinia molesta

Scientific nameSalvinia molesta
English: aquarium water-moss, Australian azolla, butterfly fern, giant salvinia, kariba-weed, salvinia, velvet weed
Cambodia: chark toch
Indonesia: kiambang
Thailand: chawk hunu
Viet Nam: bèo ong lon
Evergreen, mat-forming, free-floating fern, branching horizontal stems (up to 6–25 cm long and 1.2 cm thick), submerged feathery roots.
‘Leaves’: Green or yellowish-green fronds, in pairs, oval (2–6 cm long and 10–15 mm wide); almost impossible to wet due to a covering of fine egg-beater-shaped hairs (1–3 mm long) on upper surface; undersides covered in matted brown hairs.
Flowers: None
Fruits: None, reproduces from detached fragments.
Drainage ditches, irrigation channels, dams, ponds, swamps, wetlands, lakes and slow-moving rivers.
Thick mats reduce light penetration into water bodies, impacting negatively on submerged aquatic plants. Infestations also often out-compete rooted and submerged native plants and in so doing, reduce plant diversity (Sculthorpe, 1985). Benthic fauna is usually also reduced (Coates, 1982), while fish can also be impacted by changes in oxygen concentrations as S. molesta plants die and rot within water bodies (Sculthorpe, 1985). It is also a pest of rice paddies in India, where it competes for water, nutrients and space, resulting in poor crop production (Anonymous, 1987). Dense mats also provide habitats for many human disease vectors such as Mansonia spp. mosquitoes, which have been identified as vectors of West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and rural elephantiasis (Pancho and Soerjani, 1978; Chow et al., 1955; Ramachandran, 1960; Lounibos et al., 1990). Mats also harbour snails that transmit schistosomiasis (Holm et al., 1977). Infestations also impact negatively on water transport and fishing. For example, entire villages, dependent on water transport were abandoned along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea when infestations of S. molesta limited access to healthcare, education and food (Gewertz, 1983).
Witt, Arne. 2017. Guide to the Naturalized and Invasive Plants of Southeast Asia. CAB International. Retrieved from on 24 October 2018
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Last updated on 02/14/2019 23:52