giant salvinia USDA PLANTS SYMBOL: SAMO5
Salvinia molesta D. S. Mitchell
Synonym(s): kariba weed, salvinia, water fern, aquarium watermoss

Giant salvinia is an aquatic fern with floating leaves that are ½ to 1 ½ in. (2.5-3.8 cm) long, oblong, and vary in color from green to gold to brown. The surfaces of the leaves have rows of arching hairs that look like little egg-beaters. When young, leaves are smaller and lie flat on the surface of the water. After maturing, giant salvinia forms chains of leaves that run together to form thick mats on the surface of the water. These mats restrict oxygen and light availability causing death of the primary producers and disrupting the aquatic food chain. Submerged fronds are “stringy” and resemble roots. Plants reproduce by spores and by budding of broken stems or attached nodes. Giant salvinia is on the Federal Noxious Weed list and can invade most any type of aquatic system. The plant is native to South America and was first introduced into North America as an ornamental.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources