CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — There are two bodies of water in New England that have sacred lotus, and one of them is Meshanticut Pond in Cranston. The problem? It’s an invasive aquatic plant.

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) says the invasive plant was introduced to the pond when someone planted one in 2014 as a memorial to a family member who died.

Now, the sacred lotus has taken over roughly three acres of the pond and can even be seen from Google Earth.

While some invasive aquatic plants may be pleasant to look at, they can wreak havoc on waterbodies’ ecosystems and impact recreation too.

A dead leaf from a Sacred Water Lotus at Meshanticut Pond in Cranston.

“Folks like to swim, they like to boat, they like to fish. Once you get an invasive plant that’s taken over enough of a space in a lake, it’s really impossible to do those things,” DEM environmental scientist Katie DeGoosh-DiMarzio explained.

The plants can kill fish by changing the makeup of the water, as well as change the way fish behave, kill native plants and get tangled in boat motors.

“You’re losing all that tourism and business people might go to spend when they’re going to a lake,” DeGoosh-DiMarzio added.

Not only are the plants problematic, but they can be difficult to get rid of as well.

“It becomes a really long-term issue that costs a lot of money,” DeGoosh-DiMarzio told 12 News.

Carolina Trout Pond in Richmond was recently treated for the invasive water hyacinth. Just like Meshanticut Pond, the DEM thinks the plant was introduced to the water body by an unknowing person.

“This is the second time we’ve found it in Carolina Trout Pond in Richmond, so we’re thinking that it’s got to be someone who likes to buy water hyacinth,” DeGoosh-DiMarzio said, “and then they’re just liberating it into the Carolina Trout Pond, not knowing necessarily what they’re doing.”

On Friday, the DEM announced that the highly aggressive invasive plant hydrilla was found for the first time in Rhode Island in South Kingstown’s Indian Lake. By the plant’s fifth week of growth, it can grow “191 inches per day due to exponential branching,” the DEM said.

The DEM has introduced regulations that will prohibit selling certain invasive plants in Rhode Island. The agency told 12 News they’re making minor adjustments to the draft and expect to implement the new regulations this fall.

“The regulation is really not meant to go into somebody’s backyard and pull out their plants, just to be a responsible plant owner and make sure that those plants stay in your backyard and don’t go anywhere else,” DeGoosh-DiMarzio explained.

If you’re going fishing or boating in fresh water, make sure your vessel and equipment are clean, drained and dry before you using them again.

The DEM says if you’re looking to buy aquatic plants for your pond or aquarium, make sure to buy native ones.