Aquatic plant species prohibited from sale in Michigan

There are currently 18 aquatic plant species that are prohibited from sale in Michigan as they pose a threat to the local ecosystem.

Parrot feather
Parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is prohibited from sale in Michigan. It is also on the watch list as it poses an immediate threat to ecosystems if released. Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

In “Registration now required to sell live non-native aquatic plants,” I covered the new law by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that all retailers of aquatic species need to be registered with the DNR. By requiring registrations annually, the DNR is able to gather information about the aquatic species being sold in Michigan and to better identify which species are more likely to become invasive species in the Great Lakes Region.

With the new registration requirement, some garden center retailers, landscapers or pet stores might be wondering what aquatic plant species are prohibited from sale in Michigan. The Michigan Invasive Species website identifies all of the species that are either prohibited, restricted or on the watch list, including aquatic plants. It is unlawful to possess, introduce or sell aquatic plants on the prohibited or the restricted lists.

Prohibited species are those that 1) are not widely distributed within the state and 2) often management or control techniques are not available. Restricted species are 1) established in the state and 2) usually management methods for control are available.

The aquatic plants on the Michigan prohibited or restricted lists, which means they are not to be sold in Michigan, include:

The watch list is not related to plant sales; plants on the watch list are identified as those that “pose an immediate threat or a potential threat to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health…and also have never been confirmed in the wild in Michigan or those that have limited distribution.” Aquatic species that are on the watchlist as of April 2019 include:

In effort to inform people of these species and other potential invasive aquatic organisms, the Michigan Invasive Species Program developed the RIPPLE (Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes) campaign in partnership with Michigan State University Extension. It is designed to educate consumers and train retailers about proper containment and disposal of aquatic plants and fish utilized in water gardens, backyard ponds and aquariums. The RIPPLE website lists how consumers can prevent invasive pet and plant escapes, how to be a responsible shopper, how to care for a backyard pond and why consumers should never release aquarium plants or animals into the environment. Also on the website, consumers will be able to find a PDF version of a brochure about invasive plants and a poster about keeping Michigan’s waterways healthy

For more information about the prohibited aquatic plants, visit the Michigan Invasive Species website.

Thank you to Seth Herbst (DNR, MSU), Mike Bryan (MDARD), Jo Latimore (MSU Extension), Erin Hill (MSU Diagnostics Lab) and Angie Tenney (MSU) for their reviews.

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