Clearing the curly leaf weed

This is a close up of potamogeton crispus, the curly leaf pondweed. The tiny bud-like protuberances are flowers, which just stick up above the surface and produce a surprising amount of pollen when rubbed.

And below is a large pile of it, produced by cutting low down with a sickle, letting it float to the surface and then using a large grass rake to pull great masses of it to the side, where it can be thrown by hand on to the bank. Waders were worn, of course.

It had taken over a third of the area of the pond and in this phase I cleared about one third of it in two hours. It reproduces mainly by something called a turion which is bud-like and distinct from a tuber. The turions lie dormant on the bottom through the winter and are more important in its reproduction and spread than seeds. (Apparently asparagus grows from turions as well). So next winter I’ll try raking out the most affected places in the pond to reduce next year’s growth.

I read on the web that it grows early in the season and very fast, so tends to dominate the pond early and restrict other plants. But in July it dies back, and if there is a lot of it then the rotting vegetation can deoxygenate the pond. The Royal Horticultural Society advises cutting with a scythe in the summer and composting. I’m now looking for an old scythe because Christine’s is far too good to use under water.

The good news is that so far there is very little blanket weed so maybe the curly leaf pondweed is squeezing it out. Let’s hope so. It is a lot easier to clear.


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