Salvinia is a rootless, floating aquatic fern. Emergent groups of leaves (fronds), oblong and flat (smaller growth forms) or semi-cupped/folded (larger growth forms), grow in chains and float on the water surface forming dense mats. Leaves grow in pairs and grow to approximately 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch long. Brown, thread-like leaves hang underwater, joining at a node along a horizontal, underwater stem and are similar in appearance to a root system. The upper surface of the green leaves is covered with rows of white, coarse hairs, acting as a water repellent. The hairs of giant salvinia are joined at the tips in an egg beater shape.
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Close-up of the fern frond, showing the "egg beater" shape of the hairs on the upper surface.
Extensive infestation covering the entire surface of this body of water.