What is Milfoil?


Branching stems of Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum Spicatum) emerge from dense, spreading roots. The leaves are arranged in whorls of 3 to 6 leaves (4 leaves per whorl is common). The whorls are openly spaced along the stem, with 1 to 3 cm between nodes. The leaves are finely feather-divided, typically with 12 to 24 pairs of thread-like leaflets on each leaf. The tips of the leaves often have a blunt, snipped-off appearance. Flowers and bracts occur in whorls on slender flower spikes that rise above the water surface. The bracts have smooth margins and the flowers are generally larger than the bracts. Eurasian water-milfoil does not form winter buds.


Eurasian water-milfoil is an extremely well adapted plant, able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions. It grows well in still and flowing waters, tolerates mild salinites and can survive under ice. Eurasian water-milfoil grows rooted in water depths from 1 to 10 meters, generally reaching the surface in depths of 3 to 5 meters. Though adapted to a wide variety of substrate types, this species seems to favor fine-textured, inorganic sediments.


Eurasian water-milfoil is native to Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America in the 1940s. Spreading rapidly since its introduction, Eurasian water-milfoil is now present in most states, and was probably brought to the U.S. as an aquarium plant. Today it is considered one of the most aggressive and problematic plants in the U.S. because of the dense colonies which it forms. 

Annual Cycle

Eurasian water-milfoil is an extremely hardy aquatic perennial that propagates through root division, fragmentation, and seeds. Flowering spikes typically emerge from the water in mid to late summer, but not all colonies produce flowers. Auto-fragmentation may occur during the growing season with stem sections developing roots even before they separate from the parent plant. Toward the end of the growing season some plants break apart and die back to their rootstalks; others overwinter intact. New growth sprouts from roots and overwintering plants and plant fragments as the water begins to warm in the spring, growing rapidly toward the surface. Certain milfoils are able to hybridize with other, closely related, milfoil species.


M. (2009). EURASIAN WATER-MILFOIL Myriophyllum spicatum. Retrieved from http://www.mainevlmp.org/mciap/herbarium/EurasianWatermilfoil.php

T. (2018). Eurasian Watermilfoil Myriophyllum spicatum. Retrieved from https://aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/eurasian-watermilfoil/