Aquatic plants are important in the food web of the Torch Lake ecosystem.

Key Facts

  • They provide food for microscopic animals called zooplankton, larger invertebrates and some fish and water fowl.
  • Aquatic plants also form habitats for snails, crayfish, minnows and fish.
  • The amount of aquatic plants in a lake reflects the age of the lake and depends on the amount of nutrients available for plants to grow.
Lake Age Trophic Status Nutrients Aquatic Plants Example
Young lake Oligotrophic Low Few Torch Lake
Middle age lake Mesotrophic Moderate Moderate Lake Bellaire
Old lake Eutrophic High High Clam Lake

Did you know?

Aquatic plants vary in size from large leafy plants called macrophytes to microscopic plant-like organisms called algae.

Like land plants, aquatic plants contain chlorophyll and are able to make their own food through photosynthesis.

Macrophytes are large aquatic plants with roots, stems, leaves and flowers that grow in shallow water.

There are 3 types of macrophytes:

  1. emergent
  2. floating
  3. submergent

Emergent Aquatic Plants

. . . have stems and leaves that rise above the water surface.

Native: Broad leaved cattail


Photo by: Trish Narwold

Invasive: Purple loosestrife

Invasive purple loose strife

Photo: Mark Randolph

The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council surveyed Torch Lake for purple loosestrife in 2015 and located a few stands along the shore.

The Torch Conservation Center plans to work with property owners to remove this invasive species in 2016.

Floating aquatic plants

. . . have leaves and flowers floating on the water while rooted in the lake bottom.

Native: White water-lily

native waterlily

Photo: Trish Narwold

Invasive: Water hyacinth

invasive water hyacinth

Photo: USDA– Ted D. Center

Grass River Natural Area has identified water hyacinth in Grass River and plans to remove it as part of their Invasive Species Management Program.

Submergent aquatic plants

. . . grow entirely under the water.

Native: Northern water milfoil

native milfoil

Photo: Trish Narwold

Invasive: Eurasian water milfoil

eurasian water milf

Photo: Trish Narwold

Eurasian water milfoil grows in two locations in Torch Lake: the Alden Harbor and south of the Clam River outflow. Three Lakes Association has been active in reducing this invasive macrophyte since 2000. But, like weeds in your garden, they seem to keep coming back each summer.

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Show You Care

Think you have invasive aquatic plants growing in your stream or Torch Lake?

  • Carefully uproot the plant. Some invasive plants like Eurasian milfoil will break apart if you try to pull them up. Each fragment can start a new plant, causing them to spread.
  • Take a photo of the plant.
  • Email the photo to
  • We will identify the plant for you.
  • We will recommend the safest way to remove it.

WARNING: Treating invasive aquatic plants with herbicides requires a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR.) The herbicide contains toxins that will enter the water potentially harm other aquatic organisms — possibly even you.

Prevent aquatic plants from taking root by keeping nutrients out of the lake. Learn all about it in TRUE BLUE Living . . .

Maintain your septic system.

Septic systems contain nutrients from human waste.

Check and pump septic system regularly.

Don’t drive over the drain field.

Address problems quickly.

Go natural.

Limit the size of your lawn.

Test your soil to determine whether or not you need to add fertilizers.

Keep the natural landscape of northern Michigan in your yard.

Keep stormwater on your land.

Redirect downspouts, perimeter drains and driveways into raingardens.