Southern naiad is an annual plant that branches profusely and forms very dense stands of rooted submerged vegetation. Leaves are dark green to greenish-purple, ribbon-like, opposite or in a whorl of three, mostly less than 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Single seeds are found encased in the leaf sheath. Southern naiad reproduces by seeds and fragmentation. Flowers are at the base of the leaves but so small that they can only be observed with magnification. Bushy pondweed is often confused with sago pondweed and widegeongrass.
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. Southern naiad vegetation and seeds are consumed by many species of ducks and is considered a primary food source.