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Featured Native Aquatic Plant: Illinois Pondweed - Official Website of the Town of Windermere, Florida

Featured Native Aquatic Plant: Illinois Pondweed

Provided by Amy Giannotti, MS, CLM – AquaSTEM Consulting Consulting Lakes Manager for Windermere


Many waterfront residents and boaters on the Butler Chain have noticed an expansion of Illinois pondweed (Potamogeton illinoensis) in recent years and may be wondering why. Illinois pondweed is a native aquatic plant commonly found in lakes throughout central Florida, including the Butler Chain.


Illinois pondweed is sometimes called peppergrass and is important habitat for freshwater fish, birds, amphibians, and macroinvertebrates.


Illinois pondweed can survive in shallow waters near shore as well as deeper waters offshore. It prefers quiet or flowing alkaline waters, and it grows attached to the lake bottom from an underground horizontal stem. The plant is characterized by two leaf forms – a submerged blade-like leaf that has a slight curl on the edge or margin, and a floating elliptical leaf that is longer than it is wide.


Although Illinois pondweed has been in the Butler Chain of lakes for decades, many people are reporting a recent resurgence of growth. Illinois pondweed responds to many of the same herbicides lake managers use to control the growth of Hydrilla – an invasive aquatic weed not native to Florida – that has been intensively managed to prevent it from overtaking lakes, canals, ponds, and rivers. Now that the Hydrilla is under maintenance control and fewer herbicide treatments are required, Illinois pondweed is making a comeback and is an important part of the diverse community of submersed native plants supporting wildlife and improving water quality.


If Illinois pondweed is impacting a resident’s ability to access the open water of the lake, waterfront property owners may apply for permit to control the pondweed within a given area of shoreline.


Windermere residents are subject to rules governing aquatic plant control from Orange County Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Invasive Plant Management (FWC) program.


To learn more and/or apply, visit:

January outreach submitted to Town of Windermere Text by Amy L. Giannotti, MS, CLM, AquaSTEM Consulting, LLC


Amy L. Giannotti, MS, CLM, ( is the founder of AquaSTEM Consulting, LLC – an environmental consulting company specializing in lake and aquatic plant management, aquatic habitat restoration, and science outreach initiatives. Amy is an Environmental Scientist and Certified Lake Manager and has over 20 years of experience working in marine and freshwater systems, including coastal and freshwater vegetation dynamics, exotic species management, impacts of nutrient enrichment and remediation efforts, stormwater management and watershed hydrology, and public speaking on environmental issues affecting lakes, estuaries, springs, and karst community ecology. She is currently serving as the Town of Windermere’s Lakes Management Consultant.