Lake Gordon Clear of Yellow Floating Heart
It’s been over a year since monitors found Wisconsin’s first inland lake invasion of a plant called yellow floating heart in Forest County. The latest inspection did not reveal any new plants.
It’s chilly grey day in late October, and it’s the last time this year that Forest County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator John Preuss will check for yellow floating heart.
“What I look for is the shape of the leaf. And when it’s flowering…and the seed pods are kind of tear dropped shape.”
It looks similar to the Wisconsin’s native lily pad, but with smaller flowers and ruffled leaves. Last summer a team of experts found a dense cluster of the plant near the boat launch on Lake Gordon, a small lake nestled in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. There are no houses on the lake and only a small campground, so it’s not exactly the kind of high-traffic spot you’d expect to find the spread of an unusual invasive species.
“Basically this open area now was all green floating pads with yellow flowers poking up. We couldn’t really see the lake bottom here, it was all just plants.”
Preuss says it appeared to have been dumped in Lake Gordon, perhaps by someone cleaning out a backyard pond, though it’s illegal to transport or possess yellow floating heart in Wisconsin. Preuss says his team was lucky to find the patch relatively early. Yellow floating heart grows rapidly, and a single plant can become a hundred in just a few months.
“When we were hand pulling this stuff – this stuff grows extremely thick. We started out pulling individual plants. But as we got into the population, we had to start rolling it up like a rug.”
Earlier this summer, Preuss found only a handful of plants, and now Lake Gordon appears completely free of it. He says it’s a testament to the value of quick action against invasives.