Cabomba plant a new threat to water bodies in Kerala - The New Indian Express

Cabomba plant a new threat to water bodies in Kerala

Published: 25th January 2013 08:30 AM

Last Updated: 25th January 2013 08:30 AM

The water bodies of central Kerala, which are already facing indiscriminate sand-mining and invasion of plants, including water hyacinths and Salvinia Molesta (African payal), are facing yet another threat, now in the form of a popular aquarium weed.

According to experts, Cabomba, a plant of South American origin, has been found in many rivers in the area, and can cause the deaths of the streams and paddy fields. The plant, with the scientific name Cabomba Caroliniana, is an invasive plant first identified in the waters of Pathanamthitta district.

“The plant was identified first at the Aranmula Sathrakkadav in a study under the leadership of noted botanist N Unnikrishnan. The study was conducted as part of the ‘Pampadarsan’ programme organised by the Pampa Parirakshana Samiti two years ago. The physical condition of the Pampa river, the base of which has turned into a bed of mud after sand-mining, was conducive to its spreading,” said N K Sukumaran Nair, general secretary of the Pampa Parirakshana Samiti.

It can considered be a paradox that Cabomba, which has an attractive colour and considered an aquarium plant elsewhere, is seen as alarming to the water bodies in the state.

Unlike Salvinia Molesta, which rests on the water surface, Cabomba’s roots go into the soil, in the shallow water and speed-up the conversion of river into land.

“It is really a threat to the water bodies as it has a faster growth rate, and can grow by breaking. This invasive plant grows in shallow, stagnant and fresh water. It grows by taking the nutrients in the water and can multiply by fragmentation,” said V N Sivashankara Pillai, former Environmental Science department head at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), and a consultant for issues related to water management and environmental assessment.

“Though it was found in Aranmula, now it can be seen in many water bodies, including the Kodur river in Kottayam and Kakkanad. It has also intruded some paddy fields. It might have been there for years, but only now do we realise it to be serious threat,” he added.

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