Elodea is a rooted multi-branched perennial plant but can survive and grow as floating fragments. The dark green blade-like leaves (3/5 inch long and 1/5 inch wide) are in whorls of three with finely toothed margins. The flowers of Elodea have three white petals with a waxy coating that makes them float.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Elodea has no known direct food value to wildlife but is used extensively by insects and invertebrates.
Elodea is often confused with Hydrilla and Egeria. Elodea has only 3 leaves in the whorl and no midrib teeth.