Click here for excellent pictures of variable milfoil on the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program website. If you click on the pictures you can see an enlarged version. Note the redish brown color of the stem. This is one of the ways to distinguish this plant from some of the similar looking plants native to our lakes. The plant found in Great East was in about 4 feet of water and had not reached the surface, so there was no flower on the plant.
Variable watermilfoil is a submerged aquatic plant that has densely packed whorled leaves. It is usually found along the shorelines of lakes and ponds. Watermilfoil can grow in depths of up to 10-12 feet, forming dense mats near the surface of the water. The plant produces a spike-like flower that grows above the water’s surface from mid to late summer. It reproduces primarily by fragmentation. The plant can break apart very easily, and the fragments float to new locations and take root. When the plant was pulled from Great East a fine net was used to scoop it up to prevent fragment from escaping.