Vallisneria americana Michx.

American eelgrass, tape-grass

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Tape-grass is found throughout New England in lakes and slow-moving rivers in neutral to basic water. It is such an important food to canvasback ducks that it has been known to affect their migration patterns. It is also eaten by many other waterbirds. After the flowers are fertilized, the flower stalk coils downwards and pulls the fruit underwater.

Habitat

Lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams)

Characteristics

Habitat
aquatic
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf position
the leaves are all submerged underwater
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade length
100–1100 mm
Petal or sepal number
there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Petal color
white
Specific leaf type
the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
Floating leaf shape
NA
Underwater leaf blade width
3–15 mm
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Underwater leaf length
100–1100 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Flower lower lip length
    0 mm
    Flower number
    At least 1
    Flower position
    • the flowers are below the surface of the water
    • the flowers are floating on the surface of the water
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Inflorescence type
    • the inflorescence has only one flower on it
    • the inflorescence is a monochasial cyme (an axis with a terminal flower, below it a branch with a terminal flower, this branch may itself have a branch and so on)
    Inflorescence width
    1–1.5 mm
    Length of flower stalk
    At least 0 mm
    Length of peduncle
    30–50 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    0–6
    Ovary position
    the sepals and/or petals are attached above the ovary
    Palate on corolla
    no
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal color
    white
    Petal fringed edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal number
    1–3
    Petal or sepal number
    there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Pistil number
    • 0
    • 1
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepal length
    3.5–6.5 mm
    Sepal number
    3
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Stamen number
    • 0
    • 1 or 2
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are fused to one another at or near their bases
    Stamens fused to petals
    the stamens are not fused to the petals or tepals
    Style number
    0–1
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit length
    50–120 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
  • Glands or sap
    Oil glands on nodes
    none of the nodes have oil glands
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Roots floating in water
    there are no clusters of roots floating in the water
    Turions
    the plant has turions
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Bract relative length
    At least 3854 mm
    Bracts
    neither the flowers nor their pedicels have bracts
    Floating leaf basal lobes
    NA
    Floating leaf blade width
    0 mm
    Floating leaf length
    0 mm
    Floating leaf shape
    NA
    Floating leaf tip
    NA
    Floral bract form
    NA
    Floral bract length
    0 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade length
    100–1100 mm
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    3–15 mm
    Leaf position
    the leaves are all submerged underwater
    Leaf special features
    none of the mentioned special features are present
    Leaf-like branch segments
    0
    Leaf-like branch shape
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
    Staminate bract edge (Myriophyllum)
    NA
    Stipule appearance
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf
    NA
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Stipules fused around stem
    NA
    Trap-bladder length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf air passage number
    At least 1440
    Underwater leaf air passage relative width
    At least 1441
    Underwater leaf air passage row number
    4–5
    Underwater leaf blade edges
    • the underwater leaf blade edges are toothed
    • the underwater leaf has smooth edges, without teeth
    Underwater leaf blade shape
    the underwater leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Underwater leaf blade width
    3–15 mm
    Underwater leaf length
    100–1100 mm
    Underwater leaf stalk
    no
    Underwater leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf tip shape
    the tip of the underwater leaf is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Veins in floating leaf
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    aquatic
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem trails along the substrate, or floats in the water

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Vallisneria spiralis, of authors not L.

Genus

Vallisneria

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Vallisneria americana Michx. N

tape-grass. Vallisneria spiralis, auct. non L. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Lakes and slow-moving 
rivers, primarily in circumneutral to basic water.