Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum - (L.) Hayek
Watercress
Other Common Names: watercress
Synonym(s): Nasturtium officinale Ait.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Hayek (TSN 22993)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154097
Element Code: PDBRA270T0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mustard Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Capparales Brassicaceae Rorippa
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum
Taxonomic Comments: Treated as Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum by Kartesz (1994 checklist and 1999 floristic synthesis); sometimes treated instead as Nasturtium officinale. As treated by Kartesz (1999), excludes as R. microphylla the plants sometimes treated as R. nasturtium-aquaticum var. longisiliqua, and excludes as R. x sterilis the plants sometimes called R. nasturtium-aquaticum var. sterilis. Generally acknowledged to be Eurasian, but considered native at one Alaskan site as well (cf. Hulten, Kartesz). For the Great Lakes region, Voss (Flora of Michigan) notes that early explorers, proceeding by canoe, did not find this plant, although it is now widely established.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17Jan2000
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Reasons: Status as a native plant not assessed; widely cultivated as a salad green (the garden watercress), and established (or often naturalized) in many fresh-water streams and springs throughout the world.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Alaska (S1S2), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Native to Europe [and possibly eastern Siberia and one hot-springs site in Alaska]; now found as an exotic throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Native to Europe [and possibly eastern Siberia and one hot-springs site in Alaska]; now found as an exotic throughout the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MAexotic, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Habitat Comments: Streams, springs, marshes, lake margins; <2700 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Watercress is a perennial aquatic herb that is widely escaped across the contiguous U.S., especially in the northern and western U.S. It forms dense creeping mats that exclude native plant species. Habitats it invades include slow flowing streams, wet creek banks, lake margins, marshes, roadside ditches, seeps, sedgy tamarack swamps, and karst springs. It appears to threaten habitats with some disturbance and to be of lesser concern to well-established native plant communities. It grows quickly and reproduces by seed and fragmentation. Control can be accomplished with repeated hand-pulling.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Medium/Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 10Nov2008
Evaluator: Tomaino, A.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Europe and temperate Asia (Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslavia, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Romania, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and China) (USDA ARS 2008).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Established outside cultivation in the U.S. (Voss 1985).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invades natural areas in the upper midwest (Czarapata 2005).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance
Comments: Can block water flow in streams and springs (WIDNR 2007).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Moderate significance
Comments: A perennial aquatic herb that forms dense mats of tangled stems; stems may be several yards long (Czarapata 2005). Can rapidly cover shallow ponds (WIDNR 2007).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Forms dense stands that exclude native plant species (CJISST 2008). Creeping mat over the surface of shallow water displaces native species (ILCAPS, not dated). In Wisconsin's unglaciated region, this species may outcompete shade-intolerant natives in larger karst springs (Tenorio and Drezner 2006). This species was also found to be more abundant than natives in north-facing springs (Tenorio and Drezner 2006).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance
Comments: Foilage contains glucosinolates, which deter consumption by aquatic invertebrates (Raymond et al. 1996). This does not appear to be an unusual disproportionate impact. Assumption is that any impacts are not high or moderate.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High/Low significance
Comments: In New England, invades coldwater brooks, seeps, springs, and other bodies of water (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). In Michigan, invades margins of rivers and streams, ditches, seepy places, brooks in woods and cedar swamps (especially in cold spring-fed waters), and in sedgy tamarack swamps (Voss 1985). In Wisconsin, invades karst springs in the unglaciated region (Tenorio and Drezner 2006). In the upper midwest, invades slow-moving streams, springs, and other shallow wet areas (Czarapata 2005). In New Jersey, invades lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, springs, and moist ground (CJISST 2008). In the southeast, invades streams, springs, and seepages (Weakely 2008). In California, occurs in streams, springs, marshes, and lake margins (Baldwin et al. 2008). Some of these communities are likely to be of conservation significance or be habitat for species of conservation significance.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Established as an exotic throughout the U.S. 48, with the exception of North Dakota; less frequent in the gulf coast states (Kartesz 1999; J. Kartesz, unpublished data). Considered native in Alaska (Hulten 1968; Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Medium/Low significance
Comments: In the Southern Willamette Valley, Oregon, moderately invasive; chokes small waterways (Native Plant Society of Oregon 2008). In the upper midwest, considered to be an invasive of lesser concern meaning that it invades natural areas but does not pose a major threat to well-established native plant communities (Czarapata 2005). In Wisconsin, becomes very thick and can block water flow in streams and springs (WIDNR 2007). In Illinois, somewhat common yet dispersed throughout the state (ILCAPS, not dated). Common in Virginia, but rare to the south (Weakley 2008). Expected to have more negative impacts in western, arid, small stream systems (WIDNR 2007). Invasive in Chiricahua National Monument (Arizona), Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina & Tennessee), and Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) (Swearingen 2007).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Inferred from distribution as currently understood (J. Kartesz, unpublished data; TNC 2001). Present in most HUC watersheds in the Great Lakes (Ling 2008).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Quietly flowing streams, springs, wet creek banks, lake margins, marshes, roadside ditches, and seeps (Rollins 1993). In New England, invades coldwater brooks, seeps, springs, and other bodies of water (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). In Michigan, invades margins of rivers and streams, ditches, seepy places, brooks in woods and cedar swamps (especially in cold spring-fed waters), and in sedgy tamarack swamps (Voss 1985). In Wisconsin, invades karst springs in the unglaciated region (Tenorio and Drezner 2006). In the upper midwest, invades slow-moving streams, springs, and other shallow wet areas (Czarapata 2005). In New Jersey, invades lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, springs, and moist ground (CJISST 2008). In the southeast, invades streams, springs, and seepages (Weakely 2008). In California, occurs in streams, springs, marshes, and lake margins (Baldwin et al. 2008). Grows well in water that is slightly alkaline (Ling 2008). Found at the edges of slow-flowing water in lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers, just above or below water level (Ling 2008). Apparently intolerant of heavy shade (Howard and Lyon 1952; Ling 2008).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Edible and widely cultivated (CJISST 2008). However, already widespread throughout the region (J. Kartesz, unpublished data). Potential for further expansion of its total range is probably limited by its biology.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Inferred from USDA (1990) and J. Kartesz, unpublished data.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High significance
Comments: Edible and widely cultivated (CJISST 2008). Seeds and fragments dispersed by flowing water (WIDNR 2007).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Low significance
Comments: In New Jersey, uncommon but spreading rapidly (CJISST 2008). Occurs in habitats with some disturbance. Assumption is that this species' local range is not decreasing or remaining stable.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: In the upper midwest, considered to be an invasive of lesser concern meaning that it does not pose a major threat to well-established native plant communities (Czarapata 2005). Apparently intolerant of heavy shade (Ling 2008).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: In British Columbia, it invades streams and shallow ponds (Douglas et al. 1989). Also introduced in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand (Howard and Lyon 1952). In the British Isles it is native and occurs at the edges of rivers, streams, ditches and springs (Howard and Lyon 1952).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Reproduces by seeds and fragmentation (Czarapata 2005). Roots form at nodes; fragments then root (WIDNR 2007). Growth rate is rapid; commercially it can be harvested in 30 days (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Seed viability is relatively high at 68% after five years (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Grows through the winter in southwest Wisconsin (WIDNR 2007).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Medium/Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Removal by hand is recommended but must be done several times a year (Czarapata 2005). Labor intensive but relatively easy to control with hand pulling (WIDNR 2007). Management requires several hand-removals throughout the year (ILCAPS, not dated). Sometimes preferred or controlled by grass carp (Sanders et al. 1991 cited by Jordan 2003). Herbicide use is ineffective in flowing water (WIDNR 2007).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Medium significance/Insignificant
Comments: No mention of control requiring more than 10 years found in the literature; assumption is that control requires less than 10 years.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Non-target plant species are negatively impacted by glysophate (WIDNR 2007). However, hand pulling, which presumeably has less impacts, is the recommended management strategy (Czarapata 2005; WIDNR 2007; ILCAPS, not dated).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Edible and widely cultivated (CJISST 2008). Assumption is at least in some areas, accessibility may be a problem but problems are not severe or substantial.

Other Considerations: Believed to be native at one site in Alaska but otherwise exotic in the U.S. Kartesz (1999) considers it native following Hulten (1968). Hulten (1968) implies it is native in Alaska by not mentioning "introduced" or "escaped" as he does for other exotic species.
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 17Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Annable, C. (1993), rev. L. Morse (1996, 2000)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Baldwin, B.G., S. Boyd, D.J. Keil, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti and D.H. Wilken eds. 2008. Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Online Interchange for California Floristics. Regents of the University of California, Berkeley. Online. Available:
    http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/interchange/ (accessed 2008).

  • Central Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team (CJISST). Not dated. White watercress Invasive Plant Fact Sheet. Online. Available: http://www.fohvos.org/pdfs/factsheets/Rorippa%20nasturtium-aquaticum_Invasive%20Plants%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf (accessed 10 November 2008).

  • Czarapata, E. J. 2005. Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, WI. 215 pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., G.B. Straley, and D. Meidinger. 1989. The vascular plants of British Columbia. Part 1. Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons (Asteraceae through Cucurbitaceae). Crown Publications Incorporated. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 208 pp.

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Hickman, J. C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1400 pp.

  • Howard, H.W., and A.G. Lyon. 1952. Nasturtium Officinale R. Br. (Rorippa Nasturtium-Aquaticum (L.) Hayek). The Journal of Ecology 40 (1): 228-245.

  • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford Univ. Press, Palo Alto, CA. 1008 pp.

  • Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (ILCAPS). Not dated. Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum, syn. Nasturtium officinale). Invasive Plant Species in Illinois Habitats. Online. Availble: http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/research/CAPS/invasiveplants.html (acessed 10 November 2008).

  • Jordan, M. 2003. Last update April 29. Grass carp: are they a safe biological control agent for nuisance aquatic vegetation? The Nature Conservancy Long Island and South Fork/Shelter Island Chapters. Online. Available: http://tncinvasives.ucdavis.edu/moredocs/cteide02.rtf (accessed 2008).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Ling Cao. 2008. July 25 last update. Nasturtium officinale. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. Online. Available: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/GreatLakes/SpeciesInfo.asp?NoCache=11%2F10%2F2008+9%3A29%3A56+AM&SpeciesID=2737&State=&HUCNumber=DGreatLakes (accessed 10 November 2008).

  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander, Jr., S.A. Leicht and E. Mosher. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Online. Available: http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane/.

  • Native Plant Society of Oregon. 2008. Exotic Gardening and Landscaping Plants Invasive in Native Habitats of the Southern Willamette Valley. Emerald Chapter, Native Plant Society of Oregon. Online. Available: http://www.emeraldnpso.org/ (accessed 2008).

  • Raymond M. N., W. C. Kerfoot, and Z. Hanscom. 1996. Watercress allelochemical defends high-nitrogen foliage against consumption: effects on freshwater invertebrate herbivores. Ecology 77(8): 2312-2323.

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  • Scoggan, H.J. 1978-1979. The flora of Canada: Parts 1-4. National Museums Canada, Ottawa. 1711 pp.

  • Swearingen, J. 2007. Last update April 10. Alien plant invaders of natural areas. Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group. Online. Available: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/list/ (accessed 2008).

  • Tenorio, R.C., and T.D. Drezner. 2006. Native and invasive vegetation of karst springs in Wisconsin's Driftless area. Hydrobiologia 568: 499-505.

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