FIGHTING ALIENS WITH DR. WHO AND THE DNR

Everyone who takes care of land from square foot gardeners to those of us trying to manage multiple acres has their most wanted list of invasives plants.

...Canada Thistle

The lists are getting longer.  According to James Reinartz of the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium , the cost to
the U.S. economy to monitor, contain, and control non-native invasive
species is approaching  $200 billion per year – an annual cost
greater than that for all natural disasters combined.

We are not just fighting to keep a few pretty native flowers blooming.  Invasive plants and animals are destroying our forests and our farmlands.

...Multiflora Rose

Sometimes it helps me keep motivated in my own skirmishes against invasive species to know that people are working on this all over the country and around the world.

Here are three efforts that help me keep hopeful.

1.  The Wisconsin DNR is offering a handy poster you can download with easy to identify images of 16 of the baddies.  And for more detailed info, you candownload A Field Guide to Terrestrial Invasive Plants in Wisconsin

2,  Research published in the

...Locate and annihilate!

journal, Invasive Plant Science and Management recently discusses how if an exotic plant species does enter a new country, our best bet is early detection and eradication.  (It’s kind of like what the what the Daleks on Dr. Who – “Locate and annialate!)  But even the Daleks would have a hard time keeping up with the level of alien plants getting footholds in new regions throughout the country.

So a new system is being used to concentrate efforts where they can be most useful.

Using a GIS (geographic information system) by predicting where a new plant will be likely to gain a foothold and try to stomp its toes right then and there. This will mean county watch lists can be prepared for the areas most likely to be hit.

I like this plan.

...Buckthorn

3.  I also just discovered another resource that is battling invaisives on a national scale.  The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species http://www.necis.net/

They have a nice web page called What You Can Do.  Check it out.

One thing they mention is: avoid buying and planting mixtures of seeds, especially ones labeled “wildflowers.”  Evidently they may well contain invasives.  Yikes.

Winter is a good time to inform ourselves about what new invasives we need to be looking for when the plants begin to grow again next spring.  It’s not as fun as looking through seed catalogs but it’s just as necessary.

I’ll be posting about some specific additions in the coming months that we need to put on our watch lists.

Who is at the top in your Rogue’s Gallery?  Let us know what you are on the look out for.

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6 replies

    • Hi Michelle,
      Yes, I love Dr. Who. I especially love the two most recent personas, which have added decent special effects and engrossing backstory to the saga. (Although at the time, I loved Tom Baker’s Doctor–what those episodes lacked in plot line and character development, they made up for with pure panache). And I also have recently watched the entire 2-1/2 seasons of Torchwood. What do you think of that?
      These days, I think what we are doing to ourselves with climate change is much more frightening than any invasion of ill-tempered space monsters.
      Denise

  1. In our half-acre suburban yard, it was buckthorn… we didn’t pay much attention to the lilac hedges for a few years while we fixed up the house, and were shocked to realize they were more invasive honeysuckle/buckthorn than lilacs by the time we looked again.

    But during that same time, we did quite a bit of digging around the garage and house (fixing up concrete and foundations), and have spent the last two years battling a splendid crop of garlic mustard.

    Our local park is a wasteland of garlic mustard fields under dying trees – the only healthy-looking trees or shrubs are the buckthorn muscling their way up through the sickly elm, oak, and maple saplings – the full-grown elm/oak/maple don’t look like they have many years left, but with no “good” trees going up to replace them I don’t know what it’s going to look like in a few more years.

    • That’s a very sad story, Meghan. I’ve crossed swords with my share of buckthorn and honeysuckle. Whe we lived in the northern suburbs of Chicago, our neighborhood of 88 houses built in the late 60s was called Blueberry Hill — not because it had any actual blueberries, but because of all the buckthorn trees. We gradually replaced them on our property, but couldn’t convince many of our neighbors they were a bad thing. Garlic mustard was just making an appearance, and I shudder to think what it has done since then.
      Keep up the good fight,
      Denise

  2. I have battled buckthorn in Wisconsin when my Pathfinder group was there for our once-every-five-years Camporee in Oshkosh. My small group volunteered an afternoon to haul it out of some woods in a park.

    We have buckthorn here in NH too, but I pull up every specimen I see. (Someday I expect to be apprehended by a well-intentioned officer for that.) I don’t think I have any on my property, but I remain ever-vigilant.

    Worse than buckthorn though, is Japanese knotweed (Polygonum japonica if memory serves). That stuff is nearly impossible to get rid of. I’ve only ever seen one plant on my place, and that was quickly pulled – it didn’t take. But there’s a huge stand of it 200 yards south of my place, and it’s rampant in a lot of the other places I frequent. Nasty, nasty stuff.

  3. Out here in Seattle, it’s tansy to shoot on sight.

    Dear Driftless,

    Thank you so much for the encouraging comment you left in October’s “In Tents”. I’m new to blogging and clumsy about procedure, so I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge your generosity.

    Much of my environmental awareness grew from, no kidding,a package of Forget-Me-Nots that a writer friend from Madison sent me around 1975, so it was delightful to learn your location

    Looking forward to a bloomin’ wonderful 2011.

    Chris

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