Starry Stonewort (SSW) is an algae. It has no root system and is not attached to the bottom. It has tiny, star-shaped, tan-colored reproductive structures that are firm to the touch when compared to its soft branches. It has a tendency to colonize deep water and can form dense mats several feet thick. It can impede navigation and limit growth of more beneficial plants. It can reproduce easily by fragmentation.
SSW was first discovered in Lake Wawasee in August of 2008 and in Syracuse Lake in 2011. Despite large scale efforts to control SSW, its acreage has increased steadily every year since 2009 when estimated acreage in Lake Wawasee was 15 acres. In 2016, total acreage of SSW was estimated at 239 acres in Lake Wawasee and 219 acres in Syracuse Lake. SSW can now be found in 16 lakes in northern Indiana.
WACF, partnered with IDNR (Indiana Department of Natural Resources) has been actively involved in implementing studies and treatment of SSW. While the invasive weed can be controlled with regular chemical treatment, it has been found to be difficult if not impossible to totally destroy.
WACF considers SSW to be the most potentially destructive of the invasive species currently present in the watershed and will continue to aggressively track and assist in the control of SSW.