Common salvinia is native to South America. It is a small free-floating plant that grows in clusters and develops into dense, floating mats or colonies in quiet water, undisturbed by wave action. The floating leaves of salvinia are more or less round (1/2 to 3/4 inch) with a distinct midrib along which the leaf may fold forming a cup-shaped appearance. Salvinias have stiff leaf hairs on the upper surface of the leaves. In common salvinia the leaf hairs have a single stalk that divides into four separate branches. Underwater the leaves are modified into small root-like structures. The entire plant is only about 1 inch in depth. Salvinias are ferns and have no flower. Common salvinia can reproduce by spores or by fragmentation and is an aggressive invader species. If colonies of common salvinia cover the surface of the water, then oxygen depletions and fish kills can occur. These plants should be controlled.
Dense salvinia colonies provide Habitat for micro invertebrates but if salvinia completely covers the surface of a pond it will cause dissolved oxygen depletion and fish kills. These colonies will also eliminate submerged plants by blocking sunlight penetration. Salvinias have no known direct food value to wildlife and is considered an exotic and highly undesirable species.
This plant is not native to North America and it is illegal to possess or transport this species in Texas. Please report any sightings of this plant to Texas Park and Wildlife Department.