PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has organized four community harvesting events in August to remove invasive, sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) plants from Meshanticut Pond in Cranston. Paddlers in kayaks and canoes, along with non-boating volunteers, will help cut and collect the massive leaves from this noxious plant, which threatens to cover the pond.
What: Community harvesting events
Meshanticut Pond Meshanticut State Park Cranston Street, Cranston
Thursday, August 1 5 PM – 8 PM
Saturday, August 3 9 AM – 12 PM 1 PM – 4 PM
Sunday, August 18 1 PM – 4 PM
"More than 140 volunteers have volunteered to help DEM control this destructive, invasive plant," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "What a terrific response! We appreciate Rhode Islanders' civic-mindedness and willingness to tackle this unexpected challenge."
Sacred lotus is a highly aggressive, invasive species that threatens a healthy balance of native plants, impedes fishing and boating opportunities, and will be costly to manage over the next several years. First documented in Meshanticut Pond in 2018, the lotus patch is believed to have been growing for about five years. DEM believes that an area resident – unaware that planting in a pond is not allowed and of the plant's noxious nature of rapidly spreading – released the lotus in the pond. Aerial photographs indicate that it is reproducing at an exponential rate. The patch currently covers 1.25 acres of the 12-acre pond, with its massive leaves covering large areas and outcompeting native aquatic vegetation. It is urgent that the growth of this invasive species is culled, and the population managed, so it does not spread to other areas in the state or New England.
This is the first finding of sacred lotus in a natural area in Rhode Island. Regionally, it has not been found in any other New England state except for Massachusetts, where it was found in one lake. It is typically found in small, isolated, backyard water gardens or curated in pots at botanical gardens.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit http://www.dem.ri.gov/. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.