Elodea canadensis

Botanical Name : Elodea canadensis
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Genus: Elodea
Species: E. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Synonyms : Anacharis canadensis. Planch.
Common Name :Elodea,American or Canadian Waterweed or Pondweed.  Other common names for this plant include Anacharis (an older name for the genus Elodea), water thyme, common elodea, and ditch moss.

Habitat : Native to  N. America – Alaska to California east to Quebec and Virginia. Naturalized in Britain .Grows in Waters, mostly calcareous, of lakes and rivers from sea level to 2000 metres in America. Slow-moving fresh water throughout most of Britain.

Description:
Elodea canadensis is a  perennial water plant. Young plants initially start with a seedling stem with roots growing in mud at the bottom of the water; further adventitious roots are produced at intervals along the stem, which may hang free in the water or anchor into the bottom. It grows indefinitely at the stem tips, and single specimens may reach lengths of 3 m or more.

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The leaves are bright green, translucent, oblong, 6-17 mm long and 1-4 mm broad, borne in whorls of three (rarely two or four) round the stem. It lives entirely underwater, the only exception being the small white or pale purple flowers which float at the surface and are attached to the plant by delicate stalks.

It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants. The flowers have three small white petals; male flowers have 4.5-5 mm petals and nine stamens, female flowers have 2-3 mm petals and three fused carpels. The fruit is an ovoid capsule, about 6 mm long containing several seeds that ripen underwater. The seeds are 4-5 mm long, fusiform, glabrous (round), and narrowly cylindrical. It flowers from May to October.

It grows rapidly in favorable conditions and can choke shallow ponds, canals, and the margins of some slow-flowing rivers. It requires summer water temperatures of 10-25 °C and moderate to bright lighting.

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It is closely related to Elodea nuttallii, which generally has narrower leaves under 2 mm broad. It is usually fairly easy to distinguish from its relatives, like the Brazilian Egeria densa and Hydrilla verticillata. These all have leaves in whorls around the stem; however, Elodea usually has three leaves per whorl, whereas Egeria and Hydrilla usually have four or more leaves per whorl. Egeria densa is also a larger, bushier plant with longer leaves.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It can grow in water.

Cultivation:  
A floating, submerged plant, growing well in slowly-moving water and also succeeding in ponds. Plants grow more vigorously when able to root into the mud of the pond. This species, when first introduced into British waterways in the mid nineteenth century, spread rapidly to become a great peat, blocking many waterways. It then seemed to lose its vigour and is now widespread but seldom abundant. Most of the plants grown in Britain are a female clone. Plants perennate by means of overwintering buds that sink to the bottom of the pond in the autumn and then commence growing in the spring.

Propagation:
Seed – seldom produced in Britain, if it is obtained it should not be allowed to dry out and is best sown immediately in water. Division can be carried out at almost any time in the growing season. Simply break off a bit of plant and place in water – it will soon produce roots. The stem can be weighted with something like a stone and then thrown into a pond to allow the stems to root into the mud.

Medicinal Uses:An infusion of the plant has been used as a strong emetic.

Other Uses: It is frequently used as an aquarium plant. Propagation is by cuttings

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Elodea+canadensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elodea_canadensis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

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