Got Nature? Blog

Invasive species are any plant, animal, insect or plant disease not native to a specific location that can cause harm to the environment, impact the diversity of native species, reduce wildlife habitat or disrupt important ecosystem functions.

As spring approaches, many invasive plants are beginning to leaf out in local woodland areas. Now is the time to stop them in their tracks so they don’t overtake native plants, affect water availability or damage the quality of soil among other potential impacts.

Here are some resources to help you identify various invasive plants in woodland areas near you, to know when to report them and also what you can do help control their spread.

burning bush

burning bush

Asian Bush Honeysuckle
Watch this video to learn how to identify Asian Bush Honeysuckle .

Burning Bush
Learn about the Winged Burning Bush and what you can do to stop the spread of this species.
Learn more about the identification, distribution, impact, management and control of this deciduous shrub found in Indiana hardwood forests with this Purdue Extension publication, Invasive Plant Series: Winged Burning Bush.
Check out this article for alternatives plants listed in the Purdue University’s Landscape Report, Alternatives to Burning Bush for Fall Color.

Callery_pear_thicket

Callery Pear

Callery Pear
Watch this video to learn how to identify Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear and discover some steps you can take to combat this invader.
To identify callery pear view this article in the Landscape Report titled Now is the Time to Identify Callery Pear.
Learn about what you can do if you have callery pear by viewing this article in Purdue Extension’s Indiana Yard and Garden, A “Perfect” Nightmare.

Japanese Chaff Flower
The chaff flower is typically found in flood plains, ditches, bottomland forests and on riverbanks, growing in rich, moist soil. It often shades out and displaces many native plant species. Learn more about the

mileaminute

Mile-a-minute

chaff flower and how to report it by viewing this Purdue Extension publication Japanese Chaff Flower.

Kudzu
Learn more about Kudzu in Indiana (pdf 248kb).

Mile-a-minute Vine
This plant forms very dense, tangled mats, growing over shrubs, small trees and up the sides of forest edges. Learn how to identify and control this fast-growing vine within the buckwheat family by viewing this Purdue Extension publication Mile-a-minute Vine.

multiflorRoseRob_Routledge_Sault_College_Bugwood.org

Multiflora Rose
Credit: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

Multiflora Rose
This plant bears white flowers in clusters, which turn into small red berries in the fall. Learn more about how to identify and control Multiflora Rose  (video).

Oriental Bittersweet
Familiarize yourself with Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet, an exotic invasive vine that is moving from ornamental plantings to fields and woodlands.

Wintercreeper
This exotic invasive vine is moving from ornamental planting to fields and woodlands and features a white to pinkish-red fruit that is visible from September to November. Learn how to identify Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper, which is green all-year-round, and steps you can take to combat this invader.

Winter Creeper

Winter Creeper
Credit: Chris Evans, NRES/University of Illinois

Resources
Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Report Invasive, Purdue Extension
Woodland Invaders, FNR Got Nature? post
What Nurseries Need to Know About the Invasive Species Regulation, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center

Elizabeth Jackson, Manager Walnut Cncl/IFWOA & Engage Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


honeysuckle2

Invasive Asian bush honeysuckle species in spring

honeysuckle

Invasive Asian bush honeysuckle species in spring

The longer daylight period and the warming weather are bringing new life to woodlands. We have a community of native plants, called spring ephemerals, that grow, bloom, and produce seed quickly before the tree leaves emerge and the forest understory is wrapped in shade. Several of my favorite wildflowers are in this group, including hepaticas, trilliums, bloodroot, squirrel-corn, and trout lily.

Some unwelcome invaders also emerge early in the spring, producing early foliage and an unnatural shade competing with our native plants. Several woody invasive plants have moved into our woodlands from ornamental and other plantings and now compete aggressively with our natives. These include Asian bush honeysuckles, privets, winged burning bush, and multiflora rose. These plants tend to produce foliage faster than most of our native trees and shrubs, proving them with a competitive advantage through a longer growing season. This early leaf emergence also provides us with an opportunity to identify these invaders in our woodlands. When walking out to observe the wildflowers or hunt for morels, keep your eyes open for the invasive plants. Small specimens can be pulled when soils are moist. Larger specimens may be cut and the stump treated with a herbicide to prevent sprouting. An easy and effective herbicide to access for landowners is glyphosate concentrate products mixed at a 50% ratio with water. Apply this mixture to the cut stump immediately after cutting. Read the herbicide label to understand the protective gear and application instructions required to apply safely.

If you have a large infestation that is beyond your capacity to control, consider contacting a local forester or other natural resources professional for advice on how best to deal with your invasive plant problem. You may contact the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry for advice from the District Forester.  Private-sector foresters and environmental groups and contractors may also be able to help you manage invasive species on your property. To find a private-sector forester visit www.findindianaforester.org. You can find environmental groups and contractors, and additional information on invasives at the Indiana Invasive Species Council website. Purdue Extension has many invasive species resource publications and videos that can help with identification and management.

Controlling invasive plants can bring a sense of satisfaction, knowing you are doing something to promote the health and sustainability of your property.

Resources
Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Report Invasive, Purdue Extension
Invasive Plant Series: Winged Burning Bush, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Burning Bush Video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
What Nurseries Need to Know About the Invasive Species Regulation, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center

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


Winged Burning BushWinged burning bush, winged euonymus, or simply burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a medium-sized deciduous shrub native to China, Japan and Korea but is widely planted in the United States. Winged burning bush has been planted in the US since the 1860s, primarily as an ornamental shrub due to its bright red fall foliage. Reports of this species escaping cultivation and establishing in natural areas, such as woodlands, prairies and other uncultivated areas, emerged in the 1970s in the Northeast and Midwest US. The species is now considered invasive in most of the eastern US, including Indiana.

Invasive Plant Series: Winged Burning Bush is an 8-page publication written by experts Brian Beheler, farm manager, Don Carlson, forester, Lenny Farlee, sustaining hardwood extension specialist and Ron Rathfon, regional extension forester SIPAC. In this publication, you can learn about the identification, distribution, impact, management and control of this deciduous shrub found in Indiana hardwood forests. For more information check out the Burning Bush Video.

Resources
Report Invasive Species, Purdue Agriculture & Indiana Invasive Species Council
Burning Bush Video, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
What Nurseries Need to Know About the Invasive Species Regulation, The Education Store
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper, The Education Store

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


ArcGIS.com
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies

On September 19, 2019 a controlled burn was conducted on the Doak grassland and forest property, owned and managed by the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. Burn events such as this one present a unique opportunity to demonstrate how UAS can be utilized as an effective tool to both monitor the burn events in real time, but also to effectively gather data before and after the burn to map and better manage vegetation. This collection of maps, videos, and images provide a narrative on how UAS can be used as an effective tool in controlled burn management practices. Beyond controlled burns, the story should demonstrate how UAS can be used to better monitor and inventory other disturbance events, whether they are planned or unexpected.

A Collaborative Effort
The data collected for this event represents a collaborative effort between multiple colleges at Purdue University and private industry. Employees with Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (College of Agriculture) performed and managed the burn while data collection for the pre and post-burn mapping was conducted by student researchers and pilots from the Purdue School of Aviation and Transportation Technology (SATT; Polytechnic Institute). Peter Menet and Chris Johnson from MenetAero provided aerial monitoring support throughout the controlled burn. A total of three different aircraft were used during this event. The SATT student pilots deployed a C-Astral Bramor PPX equipped with a MicaSense Altum 6 band multispectral sensor at 121 meters before and after the event for mapping purposes. MenetAero deployed a C-Astral C4Eye to monitor the burn in real time using EO/Thermal IR video with real time geographic coordinates at 121 meters while SATT students monitored the burn with a DJI M600 equipped with a Zenmuse XT2 sensor at lower altitudes.

Monitoring the Burn:
The nimble nature of UAS makes them ideally suited to deploy rapidly, and into tight situations otherwise too dangerous for ground crews and manned aircraft. Add to this the aerial perspective offered by UAS via real-time video feed, and you have the perfect platform to assist in hazard events such as fire. The real-time video feed allows the UAS pilot and crew to communicate with ground-based fire crews, providing information on potential hazards and overall fire behavior patterns. For this aerial perspective to be effective, however, the video needs to have geospatial context so what the UAS operator is seeing is effectively communicated to ground-based fire crews. Full-Motion-Video, or video that has metadata with geospatial coordinate information, is a game changer in this regard. The video below shows how software such as Remote Geosystems Line Vision Ultimate can place video in a geospatial context. The video below is being played after the flight, but Pete Menet from MenetAero had the video live streaming to his Ground Station during the flight and was able to effectively serve as an ‘eye in the sky’ to provide real time information to ground based crews. This was all done in a controlled burn, but this same technology and method is used by MenetAero during Wild Fire Events where MenetAero provides UAS services as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Interior. Peter Menet and the MenetAero crew were kind enough to donate their services and time to the controlled burn event this day as part of a collaborative research effort between industry and Purdue.

A Before and After Comparison
Prior to recent advances in UAS technology, gathering imagery at sub-centimeter accuracy and resolution immediately before and after a planned burn event would prove difficult at best. The PPK technology on the C-Astral PPX allowed us to conduct the flights without the need to layout and survey ground control markers, but still achieve centimeter level accuracy by post-processing our data with a Continuously Operating Reference Stations in close proximity. Without UAS, getting satellite data within this time frame would have been pretty much impossible, and getting a manned aircraft to do this prohibitively expensive.

Making Sense of it all through Classification Analysis
Pre-Burn Land Cover Classification
When we think of disturbance events, we often think of the unplanned ones – fire, ice storms, wind storms, floods, etc. But what about planed disturbances such as a controlled burn, or a timber harvest operation? In the case of a planned disturbance, we have the ability to inventory land cover immediately before an event, and then with classification methods, quantify that land cover. Land Use/Cover classification methods are nothing new, and go back to the very beginnings of GIS/Remote Sensing, but new here is the ability to deploy a UAS to get this data in a way that is accurate and precise enough to classify down to resolutions of several square centimeters. Add to that the imagery was gathered less than an hour before the burn and you have some amazing potential for forestland management.

*Thank you to ArcGIS.com for sharing the great work of our FNR specialists as they continue to “strengthen lives and livelihoods” here in Indiana and around the world.

Resources
Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Burn Management Strategies webpage
Effective Firebreaks for Safe Use of Prescribed Fire, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature? Blog
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store

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


Purdue Landscape Report: When was the last time you really looked at your trees?  It’s all too easy to just trees, grasslandsenjoy their cool shade and the sound of their leaves, but if you don’t know what to look for you could miss deadly diseases or dastardly demons lurking in their leaves and branches. A quick check can help you stop a problem before it kills your tree or your local forest!

National Tree Check Month is the perfect time to make sure your tree is in tip-top shape! Our checklist will help you spot early warning signs of native pests and pathogens and invasive pests like Asian longhorned beetlespotted lanternfly, and sudden oak death. You can stop invasive pests in their tracks by reporting them if you see them.

Is your tree healthy and normal?
Start by making sure you know the type of tree you have. Is it a deciduous tree like an oak or maple? Or is it an evergreen that like a spruce or a pine? Don’t worry about exactly what species it is. It’s enough for you to have a general sense of what the tree should look like when it’s healthy.

Check the leaves

  • Are the leaves yellow, red or brown?
  • Are they spotted or discolored?
  • Do the leaves look distorted or disfigured?
  • Is there a sticky liquid on the leaves?
  • Do the leaves appear wet, or give off a foul odor?
  • Are leaves missing?
  • Are parts of the leaves chewed?

Check the trunk and branches

  • Are there holes or splits in the trunk or branches?
  • Is the bark peeling from a tree that shouldn’t shed its bark?
  • Are there tunnels or unusual patterns under the bark?
  • Is there sawdust on or under the tree?
  • Is there sap oozing down the tree?
  • Does the sap have a bad odor?
  • Do sticky drops fall on you when you stand under the tree? You might have spotted lanternfly. Please report it right away!

Now what? If you answered YES to any of the questions above, there’s a good chance something is wrong. To decide if and how you should treat or report the problem, you’ll need to have a tentative diagnosis. Luckily, there are many ways to get one!

Know the tree species? Use the Purdue Tree Doctor to get a diagnosis and a recommendation on whether treating or reporting is needed.  This app allows you to flip through photos of problem plagued leaves, branches and trunks to help you rapidly identify the problem.  If you have an invasive pest, it will guide you how to report it.

Don’t know the tree species and still need help? Reach out to local experts. We’re happy to help!

Confused but think something is TERRIBLY WRONG?  Contact Purdue’s Exotic Forest Pest Educatorreport online, or call 1-866-NOEXOTIC.

Resources:
Trees and Storms, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Why Is My Tree Dying?, The Education Store
Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard, In the Grow, Purdue Extension
Tree Risk Management, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices,  The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1 & Tree Planting Part 2, videos, The Education Store

Cliff Sadof, Professor & Coordinator of Extension
Purdue University, Department of Entomology

Elizabeth Barnes, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue University, Department of Entomology


Woodland Steward PublicationThe Indiana Woodland Steward Homepage has just been updated with a new newsletter and is available to view on the website. The Indiana Woodland Steward Newsletter is 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 hardwood strategy, terrestrial invasive species rule, tick-borne diseases, spring time woodland evaluations, 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.

Resources:
Indiana Woodland Steward, IWS Newsletter Homepage
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, Purdue University FNR
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana DNR Homepage

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


Forest management in the eastern United States is faced with many modern challenges. Professional foresters have an innovative set of management options for the maintenance of healthy forest ecosystems. But some options raise public objections when applied to public lands (e.g., types of timber harvest, prescribed fire) and the effects of some management options on forests and their native inhabitants are poorly understood. Moreover, forest lands in the eastern and Midwestern United States primarily are in small privately-owned parcels that change ownership relatively frequently. These lands are often managed for short-term financial gains rather than long-term sustainability.

As populations of some forest organisms decline, restrictions on landowners may increase because species become classified as endangered or threatened (e.g., the Indiana bat), while increasing populations of other species (white-tailed deer, invasive plants) create economic and ecological challenges. These problems are compounded by the lack of scientifically rigorous research on the overall impacts of forest management on the effected ecosystems and their components. To address this set of issues, the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE), a long-term, large-scale experimental study of forest management and its impacts, was initiated in 2006.

Many of Indiana’s forests have been dominated by oak and hickory trees for thousands of years. The historical conditions that shaped today’s forests have changed, altering forest composition and leading land managers to wonder what can be done to maintain oak and hickory forests for the future.  The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: 2006-2016 provides an overview of findings for the first 10 years of the HEE, 100 year project.

To learn more about this 100 year forest management plan and see its impacts, check out the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment website.

If you would like to start receiving “The HEE Update,” please email Charlotte Owings, the HEE project coordinator, at freemac@purdue.edu. If you do not have an email address, you may still receive the newsletter by regular postal mail – call Charlotte Owings at 765-494-1472.

Resources:
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment website
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: 2006-2016, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: Indiana Forestry and Wildlife, The Education Store
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, The Education Store
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Sustaining Our Oak-Hickory Forests, The Education Store
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Forest Birds, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Playlist
Invasive Plants: Impact on Environment and People, The Education Store
The Great Clearcut Controversy, The Education Store

Charlotte Owings, Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) Project Coordinator
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Article published: Morning Ag Clips: Citizen Scientists — Report Invasive Species
Written by: Emma Ea Ambrose, Agricultural Communication Service, Purdue University

National Invasive Species Awareness Week kicked off on Feb. 25 (Monday) and runs through March 3 (Sunday).Mile-a-minute vine

The campaign is designed to enhance awareness about invasive species and encourage reporting of invasive species from what Purdue University entomology professor Cliff Sadof calls “citizen scientists.” This includes people who spend time professionally or recreationally in the outdoors and is interested in learning about invasive species. A major tool in the fight against these species is the Report Invasive website, hosted by Purdue College of Agriculture and the Indiana Invasive Species Council. The website includes several ways that people can report invasive species, including a smartphone app from the Great Lakes Early Detection Network.

“There are not that many specialists and experts covering the state,” Sadof said. “When there are concerned citizens reporting, however, we have many more eyes and a better chance of detecting and eradicating a harmful species early.”

Please report any invasive species you come across including insects, plants, and animals to Report Invasive Species.

For full article see Citizen scientists-report invasive species, Morning AgClips.

Resources
New Hope for Fighting Ash Borer, Got Nature? Blog
Mile-a-Minute Invasive Vine Found Indiana, Got Nature? Blog
Sericea Lespedeza: Plague on the Prairie, Got Nature? Blog
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, Purdue Extension The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species in Hardwood Tree Plantations, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear, Purdue Extension The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper, Purdue Extension The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species Oriental Bittersweet, Purdue Extension The Education Store

Cliff Sadof, Pest Management & Extension Coordinator
Purdue Entomology

 


Mile-a-minute vine covering trees

(Figure 1) Mile-a-minute vine grows more than 25 feet in height in one growing season, overtopping shrubs, small trees and growing up forest edges.  Image by: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Preventing the establishment of new invasive species is priority number one and the best expenditure of limited resources in an invasive species management program. Next in priority is early detection of and rapid response (EDRR) to the first report of a new invasion. Stopping invasive species from entering or, next best, at their initial point of introduction saves the incalculable costs later-on associated with rapidly spreading, all-consuming invasive species populations. The verification of a report of mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) on a property in Monroe County, Indiana on May 14, 2018 sets a historical prescedence demonstrating a growing capability of detecting and reporting new invaders. The population was very small at this spot and had apparently been sprayed by a homeowner with herbicide, not necessarily to kill the mile-a-minute, but likely to kill the companion multiflora rose.

Our hope is that this is the only instance of mile-a-minute vine in Indiana. There is a significant probability that it is not! In the coming months, a more thorough survey of this property and surrounding area will be conducted to look for more of the vine. But now Indiana stands on high alert as natural resource professionals keep a look out for more of this highly-invasive pest. However, there are too few professionals with eyes on the landscape. The more eyes trained to identify the very distinct characteristics of mile-a-minute, the higher the chance of us catching it before it explodes across the landscape, wreaking havoc and mayhem in our forests and fields, wildlife habitat and mushroom hunting and birding grounds.

Mile-a-minute leaves

(Figure 2) The leaves are simple, alternate, light green and a nearly perfect triangle shape.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

All landowners, land stewards, and nature lovers are needed to be additional eyes looking for this insidious threat this summer and in coming years. Please take a moment to learn its identifying characteristics. If you think you have found it, please report it on EDDMapS (Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System) or from your smart phone on the GLEDN (Great Lakes Early Detection Network) app. If you are unsure if you are correctly identifying it, please contact a forester or other natural resource professional for confirmation or just report it in EDDMapS or the GLEDN app, along with photos, and a professional in your area will verify its identification before it actually gets posted.

Mile-a-minute identification:

Mile-a-minute vine is a member of the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae. Although its common name exaggerates its growth potential, this annual vine can grow as much as 6 inches a day and can reach heights of more than 25 feet within the growing season. It forms very dense, tangled mats, growing over shrubs, small trees and up the sides of forest edges (Fig. 1). The leaves are simple, alternate, light green and a nearly perfect triangle shape (Fig. 2). The delicately narrow, green to red-tinted stems, and the petiole (leaf stem) and midrib on the underside of the leaves are armed with small, stiff, recurved barbs (Fig. 3). Small, cup- or saucer-shaped leaf structures, called ocreae, encircle the stem at each node (Fig. 4). Clusters of small white, rather inconspicuous, flowers emerge from the ocreae. Flowers develop into clusters of deep, iridescent blue berry-like fruits, approximately 5 mm in diameter, each fruit containing a single black or reddish-black hard seed, called an achene. Seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals, including chipmunks, squirrels and deer, which eat the fruit. Floodwaters facilitate long distance dispersal of seed.

Mile-a-minute fruit berries

(Figure 4) Small, cup- or saucer-shaped leaf structures, called ocreae, encircle the stem at each node. Flowers emerge from the ocreae and develop into clusters of deep, iridescent blueberry like fruits.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Mile-a-minute thorns

(Figure 3) The delicately narrow, green to red-tinted stems, and the petiole (leaf stem) and midrib on the underside of the leaves are armed with small, stiff, recurved barbs.  Image by: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Resources:
Mile-a-MinuteVine, FNR-481-W, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Mile-a-minute vine: What you need to know about the plant that can grow 6 inches a day, Indianapolis Star
Invasive Species – Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Ask an Expert – Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Indiana Invasive Species Council – Includes: IDNR, Purdue Department of Entomology and Professional Partners
Great Lakes Early Detection Network App (GLEDN) – The Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health

Ron Rathfon, Regional Extension Forester SIPAC
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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.

Problems:

  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


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