Spiked water-milfoil

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Spiked water-milfoil

Scientific name: Myriophyllum spicatum
Look out for the feathery leaves of Spiked water-milfoil just below the surface of streams, ditches, lakes and ponds; its red flowers emerge from the water in summer. It provides shelter for a range of aquatic wildlife.

Species information


Height: up to 10cm Spread: 1-1.5m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Spiked water-milfoil is an aquatic plant, living submerged in slow-flowing streams and ditches, as well as lakes, ponds and flooded gravel pits. Its attractive, feathery leaves are held just below the surface of the water, but its tiny, reddish flowers emerge on spikes during June and July. It provides shelter for many aquatic creatures and emergent stems offer places for dragonflies and damselflies to alight and lay their eggs.

How to identify

The feathery leaves of Spiked water-milfoil are arranged in whorls of four or five. The spikes of reddish flowers appear above the water's surface in summer.


Widespread throughout the UK's lowlands, with strongholds in England and Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

The closely related Parrot's Feather was introduced into the UK in the 1960s as a garden pond plant, but soon escaped into the countryside, probably as a result of garden waste containing fragments of it. It is now an invasive weed.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.