Parrotfeather is a native of South America and was probably brought to the U.S. for the aquarium industry. It is a rooted, submerged perennial plant that usually grows in shallow water. Parrotfeather gets it name from the gray-green thickly bunched leaves that rise above the water. These exposed leaves are whorled and have frilly divisions that give it a feather-like appearance. Underwater leaves are similar but less dense. The stems are relatively stiff.
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. Parrotfeather has little or no known direct food value to wildlife and is a non-native that should not be spread.
This plant is not native to North America but has naturalized in much of the United States. While it is not illegal to possess this plant in Texas it probably should not be introduced into new water bodies.