Got Nature? Blog

Posted on September 25th, 2017 in Forestry, Invasive Plant Species, Plants, Woodlands | No Comments »

Sericea lespedeza, invasive plant speciesSericea lespedeza is arguably one of the most problematic invasive species of old fields, prairies and other early successional areas managed for wildlife. Sericea lespedeza is a perennial legume native to eastern Asia that was originally promoted for erosion control, cattle forage, cover and food for wildlife. But as with many plant introductions during the early and mid-19th century (e.g., multiflora rose, autumn olive, and bush honeysuckle), the original beliefs – while well intentioned – were ill fated and short-sided. Sericea has become invasive, is considered noxious in many states, and can be found from Massachusetts to Nebraska and from Florida to Ontario.

Here are 3 problems with sericea and 3 tools for control.


  1. Sericea is adapted to a wide variety of conditions: sericea is able to tolerant and thrive in acidic soils with relatively low soil fertility and is also drought tolerant. These factors combined with allopathic chemicals makes sericea extremely competitive causing sericea to quickly invade and overtake early successional areas displacing many native species.
  2. Sericea produces an abundance of seed: one sericea plant is able to produce more than 1000 seeds and seeds are thought to be viable for up to 20 years in the seedbank. Sericea was initially thought to provide an abundance of seed valuable to wildlife including northern bobwhite. However, the seed cannot be digested by most wildlife, thus it provides no nutritional benefits and bobwhite can actually starve by consuming only sericea seed. Research in Kansas also reported a higher percentage of sericea seed germinated after passing through the digestive system of bobwhite compared to unconsumed seed.
  3. Sericea responds prolifically following spring fires: fire is the most effective way to manage early successional vegetation. However, fire during the dormant season seems to only anger sericea and exacerbate the problem. Fire scarifies sericea seed and seedling density is increased following spring fires.

Control:Sericea lespedeza in grasslands, invasive plant species

  1. Herbicide: triclopyr (32 oz/acre), triclopyr + fluroxypyr (1.5 pt/acre), or glyphosate (1-2 qt/acre) can be used to effectively control sericea in early successional areas from June through July when sericea is 12-18 inches tall. Metsulfuron methyl (1 oz/ac) provides effective control when applied to sericea during flowering (Aug-Sep).
  2. Prescribed fire: while prescribed fire during the dormant season enhances sericea germination, fire during the late-growing season (July-Sep) can reduce sericea seed production and can decrease sericea survival. However, fire alone may not be enough to control sericea long term.
  3. Herbicide + Prescribed Fire: sericea can be controlled with herbicide during the growing season. This can be followed up with a late-growing season fire to consume any sericea not killed by the herbicide and reduce sericea seed production. The following summer herbicide can be used again to kill any new sericea seedlings or plants that have resprouted from rhizomes.

If you find sericea in fields that you manage, working quickly to stop seed production and kill the existing plants will be the most effective way to control an invasion.

Web Resources:
Herbicides to control sericea lespedeza, Southeastern Asosciation of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
Effects of Growing-Season Prescribed Burning on Vigor of Sericea Lespedeza in the Kansas Flint Hills: I. Suppression of Seed Production and Canopy Dominance, Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports

Other Resources:
If Your Native Grasses Look Like This, It’s Time for Management, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Woodland Steward PublicationTake a look at the recent Indiana Woodland Steward Newsletter, a resource that’s full of a variety of valuable information to foresters, woodland owners, timber marketing specialists and any woodland enthusiasts. This issue includes topics such as a forest management, what private woodland owners are doing about invasive plants, the threat of callery pears, as well as much more.

Check out this IWS Newsletter  to stay current in the world of forestry, and feel free to browse archived articles dating back to 1992 for more information.

Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University FNR
Fertilizing, Pruning, and Thinning Hardwood Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
TCD-Black Walnut Trees, Thousand Cankers Disease
Environmental and Management Injury in Hardwood Tree Plantations, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

The Indiana Woodland Steward Institute is an entity made from 11 organizations within the state including Purdue University, Indiana DNR, and Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association that works to promote best usage practices of Indiana’s woodland resources through their Woodland Steward publication.

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University

Dan Shaver, Project Director and Forester
The Nature Conservancy

Invasive Plant 1Check out the new publication entitled Invasive Plants: Impact on Environment and People now available in The Education Store!

Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are nonnative (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm. An invasive species is a nonnative species that can cause significant environmental and economic losses. Invasive species are said to be the second leading cause of biodiversity loss, after habitat loss.

This lesson teaches students about the significant environmental and economic losses that can be caused by the introduction of invasive plant species. It includes a game that can be played in class, plus a worksheet. The lesson meets multiple Indiana science, natural resources, math, and social studies standards.

The Nature of Teaching – Purdue Extension
Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species in Hardwood Tree Plantations, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear, Youtube, Education Store
Invasive Plants of the Eastern US, The Education Store

Mysha Clarke, Graduate Research Assistant,
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Zhao Ma, Associate Professor of Sustainable Natural Resources Social Sciences
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Once aquatic invasive species (AIS) are established in a new environment, typically, they are difficult or impossible to remove. Even if they are removed, their impacts are often irreversible. It is much more environmentally and economically sound to prevent the introduction of new AIS through thoughtful purchasing and proper care of organisms. Check out this article titled Aquatic Invasive Species – Organisms in Trade for a list of webinars bringing resources to teachers, water garden hobbyists, aquatic landscaping designers and to aquatic enthusiasts.  The video titled Beauty Contained: Preventing Invasive Species from Escaping Water Gardens is also available in the article which contains guidelines that were adopted from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force along with addressing the care and selection of plants and animals for water gardens.

Aquatic Invaders in the Marketplace, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
Great Lakes Sea Grant Network (GLERL), NOAA – Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Indiana Bans 28 Invasive Aquatic Plants, The Helm – Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
A Field Guide to Fish Invaders of the Great Lake Regions, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
Purdue Researchers Get to the Bottom of Another Quagga Mussel Impact, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
Lady Quagga Announces Latest Tour, llinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
Protect Your Waters, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service & U.S. Coast Guard

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)
University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension

Many of the invasive plant issues we experience in the urban ecosystem is due to improper plant selection when landscaping our homes and businesses. Often times, nurseries and garden centers stock trees and shrubs that create major issues in nearby natural areas. Landscapers everywhere seek beautiful, unusual, exceptionally hardy, drought-tolerant, or fast-growing plants. Unfortunately, plants selected for their resilience may be invasive because of their adaptable nature. Plants selected for their aesthetic value may be hard to banish from garden centers even after their invasive tendencies are revealed. These plants are typically prolific seed-producers which birds deposit everywhere creating competition for native plants.

Invasive species are damaging because they:

  • produce large numbers of new plants each season.
  • tolerate many soil types and weather conditions.
  • spread easily and efficiently, usually by wind, water, or animals.
  • grow rapidly, allowing them to displace slower growing plants.
  • spread rampantly when they are free of the natural checks and balances found in their native range.

One of the worst offenders for invasive qualities is the Callery Pear. This ornamental pear, famous for its prolific white flowers in spring, creates a beautiful display in many landscapes. However, it is a poor choice for two major reasons. It is highly invasive and can take over entire natural areas with its heavy seed production. In addition, it is a very weak-wooded tree with poor branch structure, leaving it susceptible to splitting and breaking under heavy winds. Check out this publication for more information on the Callery Pear.  See Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear video for more information.

To help prevent the spread of invasive species, choose plants wisely. Use the following publication as a guide for alternatives for invasive landscape plants, Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants.

Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet – The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper – The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species Fact Sheets: Poison Hemlock – The Education Store
Mile-a-minute Vine – The Education Store
Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants, The Education Store
Invasive Species – Purdue Extension
Indiana’s “Most Unwanted” Invasive Plant Pest List – Indiana Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program
Indiana Invasive Species Council – Includes: IDNR, Purdue Department of Entomology and Professional Partners
Invasive Species – Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

National Invasive Species Awareness Week: February 27-March 3, 2017

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Program Impacts identity


Woodlands provide a multitude of environmental (e.g., carbon sequestration, enhance water quality, wildlife habitat), economic (e.g., timber, wood products manufacturing, tourism), and social (e.g., recreation, aesthetics) benefits to Indiana residents. The sustainability of these benefits is strongly tied to stability of the resource. In Indiana, 75 percent of the 4.65 million acres of forestland is owned by families. Actions they take on their property can impact the benefits woodlands provide all Indiana residents. However, many do not understand available options or sources of assistance.

What Has Been Done

Indiana Woodland StewardThe Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, in partnership with many other organizations, helps produce and mail over 31,000 copies of the Indiana Woodland Steward to woodland owners three times each year. This 16-page, two-color publication includes in-depth articles on forest stewardship and health, invasive species and pests, wildlife habitat management, economics, and more.


Subscribers owned more woods (71.6 ac) for a longer tenure (33 years) than the average woodland owner in Indiana based on data from the National Woodland Owner Survey. As a group, they were also more active managers based on the proportion enrolled in assistance programs and who had a written stewardship plan. Fifty-four percent regularly utilized information from the Woodland Steward. In addition, 51 percent of respondents have implemented at least one practice they read about from The Woodland Steward, potentially impacting an estimated 1.2 million acres of forestland. His use of print media to communicate with woodland owners could be considered expensive, but clearly a large number of woodland owners regularly read and utilize the information making the average investment per landowner much lower.

Posted on June 15th, 2016 in Forestry, Invasive Plant Species | No Comments »

callerpear_buttonPurdue Extension-FNR now has another expert-reviewed video to help spread awareness of invasive plant species in Indiana. This video discusses the callery pear, an exotic tree from East Asia that is moving from ornamental plantings to fields and woodlands.

Check out Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear to learn how to identify the callery pear and how you can join the fight to stop it from spreading further. To learn more about invasive plant species, check out the videos covering oriental bittersweet and wintercreeper, or visit the Invasive Species section of the Purdue Extension website.

Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet – The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper – The Education Store
Invasive Species – Purdue Extension
Indiana’s “Most Unwanted” Invasive Plant Pest List – Indiana Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program

Danny Thomas, Purdue Extension-FNR intern
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

ziptrip video

Purdue zipTrips – Plant Science: The Green Machine (High School)

Purdue zipTrips offer a new and unique way to learn in the classroom. Students engage with Purdue scientists through a live webcast and are taken through “virtual electronic field trips” of labs, greenhouses, and other interesting Purdue facilities. After each live event, the webcast is archived and can be viewed online. ZipTrips covers a variety of topics, including genetics, nutrition, diseases, and more. One zipTrip that may be of particular interest to those thinking of joining the field of forestry and natural resources is all about plant science.

Plant science isn’t just growing plants! There are enormous problems facing an increasingly complicated world including: invasive species; genetically modified organisms; climate change; and feeding an increasing world population. These are just a few of the many issues plant scientists are working on. Check out “Plant Sciences: The Green Machine (High School)” highlighting Forestry and Natural Resources Mike Jenkins, associate professor of forest ecology, and Jeff Dukes, professor of biological Sciences and director of Purdue Climate Change Research Center, to learn about the incredible diversity in the field of plant science — everything from invasive species to GMOs to the carbon cycle and climate change.

To check out other zipTrips or register for the next trip, visit the zipTrips website. Archived zipTrips can also be viewed on Purdue Agriculture’s zipTrip Youtube playlist.

Plant Sciences: The Green Machine (High School) – Purdue Agriculture
Plant Sciences Initiative – Purdue Agriculture
Invasive Species – Purdue Extension
Indy Star shares article on backyard bullies, invasive plant species – Got Nature?
Plant Science II – The Education Store (Purdue Extension Resource Center)

Purdue Agriculture

Ornamental plants provide many environmental and ecological benefits to landscapes and urban areas. They can be aesthetically pleasing, reduce stormwater Invasive Plant Species, pear treerunoff, lower carbon dioxide and pollutants, alleviate the urban “heat island” effect, and provide habitats to pollinators, birds, and mammals. Unfortunately, a few of these landscape species can escape into wild areas and create ecological problems in unintended areas such as forests and woodlands.

The Indy Star shares article titled, “Bradford pears and other backyard bullies to avoid in Indiana” listing some of the invasive species that are taking over Indiana woodlands. If you are planning on adding trees or shrubs to your property this spring, you will want to view this article before planting.

Cara Anthony,
Release date of article April 2, 2016.

Resources from The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center:
Commercial Greenhouse and Nursery Production: Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants
Invasive Plant Species in Hardwood Tree Plantations
Invasive Plant Species Fact Sheets: Poison Hemlock
Mile-a-minute Vine
Native Trees of the Midwest
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest: Identification, Wildlife Values, and Landscaping Use

Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper

Posted on March 8th, 2016 in Invasive Plant Species, Plants | No Comments »

Oriental Bittersweet videoPurdue Extension-FNR now has two new expert-reviewed videos to help spread awareness of two significant invasive plant species in Indiana: the oriental bittersweet  and wintercreeper. These videos share plant characteristics, their effect on forests, and alternative native species that can be utilized.

Oriental bittersweet is a vine that was brought over from Asia in the 1960’s. It is a pleasant looking plant that is popular in landscaping and home decor items. However, they can be harmful to trees as they wrap around them and cut off their access to light and are also problematic on the forest floor.

Wintercreeper was brought over as an ornamental ground cover in 1907 and is still planted for landscaping today. As birds eat its seeds, wintercreeper spreads from urban areas into the forests where it grows earlier in the spring than native plants and prevents new growth from emerging.Wintercreeper video

Check out the oriental bittersweet and wintercreeper videos to learn more about these invasive species and to how to join the fight to stop them from spreading further.

Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S.: An Introduction to the Problematic Non-Native Species – The Education Store
Invasive Plants – Purdue University, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology
Invasive Plants – Indiana Invasive Species Council
Purdue Extension-FNR Internship Program – Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Danny Thomas, Purdue Extension-FNR intern
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Got Nature?