From the Director's Desk
Addressing invasive plant issues don’t simply involve making the view shed look better or getting native plants back into the ecosystem, many of our state-listed invasives produce much bigger concerns.
Did you know that we have several invaders that cause serious, if not deadly problems for humans and for livestock? Yellow starthistle is a relative of knapweed but it produces spines at the base of the flower that can puncture car tires. This plant also causes chewing disease in horses. Speaking of horses, both houndstongue and hoary alyssum can cause poisoning and death in equines. And yes, death to humans can happen with invasives too! Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) has caused death of humans due to drowning. This aquatic invasive found in several locations throughout Montana will create dense mats in the water and if you happen to try to swim in this stuff, you may get tangled up in the mass of plants. In addition, EWM reduces oxygen and movement in the water, displacing fish. Spotted knapweed is so evolved that it produces its own natural herbicide repelling some other plants and natives from growing next to it. And don’t pull spotted knapweed or leafy spurge with bare hands as the fluids produced in the plants may cause irritation for human skin (pulling leafy spurge with its rhizomatous root system isn’t a practical or effective treatment anyway)
We are nearing lift-off for many of our early invasive plants. Be on the lookout for whitetop and houndstongue rosettes and leafy spurge shoots (they look like little pine trees). I know the grass hasn’t greened up in most places and my tulip bulbs haven’t even sprouted yet, but these invasives can be tenacious boogers! You can check out these early spring risers at our weed ID section on this website. For now, here is what you should be looking for when the grass finally does start to turn green!
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