Hybrid Tumbleweeds

In another couple months the tumbleweeds will be rolling along in the western United States.  Wells and Ellstrand (2016) at the University of California – Riverside documented a new hybrid species of tumbleweed, Salsola ryanii, rapidly expanding its range.  Salsola ryanii is an allopolyploid species with 2 complete sets of genes from its parent species, S. tragus and S. australis.

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Eating invasives

Spring is here and along with it some of the more edible invasive plants.  Anyone for a dish of knotweed kimchi or garlic mustard pesto pasta?  Pittsburgh has gone to great lengths developing edible uses for Japanese knotweed, Fallopia japonica.   One business sells it by the pound to enterprising brewers and bakers.  Watch a video from the Wall Street Journal on Pittsburgh’s knotweed gourmets here, http://on.wsj.com/1YRN9g2.

The ultimate online resource for eating invasive plants (and animals) is probably Eat the Invaders.  Here you can find all sorts of information and recipes on edible invaders.  Bon appetit!

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Murdannia keisak is making a name for itself

According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Murdannia has no known common name and generally goes by Anielema, its former Latin name.  The USDA PLANTS website calls it wartremoving herb and Invasive.org calls it marsh dayflower.  Maryland Extension calls it marsh dewflower or Asiatic dayflower.  The leaves and stems do resemble Asiatic dayflower (Commelina communis).  I don’t know about it’s wart-removing powers.

Murdannia keisak

Murdannia keisak in a marsh on the Maryland Coastal Plain.

Look for mats of Murdannia keisak in freshwater ponds and marshes and along the edges of streams and canals.   It probably arrived in the US from eatern Asia in the 1920s or 30s as a weed of rice cultivation but it has unfortunately spread to natural areas.  It forms dense mats blocking light to plants below. Plants produce thousands of small seeds eaten by ducks and other waterfowl, and the plants spread vegetatively.

Small stands could be hand-pulled before flowering taking care to remove all fragments of the plant.  Larger stands are usually treated using biodegradable herbicides.

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Giant knotweed keeps coming up

Wallace Kaufman pauses on the battlefield

Wallace Kaufman pauses on the battlefield

Wallace Kaufman and Knot-weed stalks

April 24, 2015. Along the west bank of Poole Slough, 4 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and Newport, OR.  Here begins the first battle of the third year against the dense stand of giant knotweed that took over about an acre of land where an old barn and a few apple trees stood 60 years ago. When the first battle began in late summer 2012 the knotweed stood in an almost pure stand, stalks up to 10 feet high and two inches thick, two or three stalks from one root, plants 6 to 12 inches apart. Although I cut before they flower, the roots send out new stalks all summer and again in the spring. The stalks are hollow cylinders closed off at knots every 6 to 12 inches. Dried stalks make good pan pipes and flutes. Fresh young stalks can be peeled and cooked as vegetables.

Since the plants begin storing carbohydrates in the roots in early summer, I’ll cut again then and again in the fall. As the lower growing natives begin to compete, the prospects are that I can begin regular mowing with a blade set high to allow low natives to grow while preventing the knotweeds from replenishing their roots.

Each year the stand has been slower growing, stalks slimmer, and height diminished. Here is a scene from the very first attack 3 years ago.

 

 

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Water hyacinth used for counteracting algal blooms

In a controversial experiment in Florida, researchers are stocking King’s Bay with floating pens of water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) to reduce algal blooms.  Water hyacinth was removed from the bay beginning in the late 1950s, but Hydrilla replaced it and now algal blooms have become an issue in the lake.  Water hyacinth is good at removing pollutants from water and shading out algae.  In addition, manatees love it!

The pens also contain two native species, water lettuce and frog’s bit, but the article does not address whether these two plants would serve the same function as the water hyacinth.

Read more at the University of Washington’s Conservation web site and for updates see the Florida Springs Institute.

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Posted in Eichornia crassipes, Florida | 2 Comments

Invasive species threat to Federally endangered species

A government report on invasive species’ impacts on threatened and endangered species finds that the topic has not been well researched in most cases.  As I’ve been looking for reports on invasive plant impacts to threatened and endangered species in Maryland I’m inclined to agree!

Find the full report at: http://www.cabi.org/Uploads/isc/Systematic%20Review.pdf

What is the evidence that invasive species are a significant contributor to the decline or loss of threatened species?  Philip D. Roberts, Hilda Diaz-Soltero, David J. Hemming, Martin J. Parr, Richard H. Shaw, Nicola Wakefield, Holly J. Wright, and Arne B.R. Witt

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Updated Michigan guide to Phragmites control

Michigan’s A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites has recently been updated.  This 3rd edition has expanded content on how to distinguish between the native and European strain of Phragmites and new recommendations on treatment strategies.

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Forest Fragments in Managed Ecosystems Study – Invasive plant habitat projects

At the Delaware Invasive Species Conference this week two Delaware researchers presented some preliminary findings from research done through the FRAME long-term ecosystem study in northern Delaware.  Ph.D. candidate Solny Adalsteinsson is finding more ticks under multiflora rose than uninvaded areas 25 meters away.  However, uninvaded forest fragments had more ticks than invaded fragments did overall.  She is currently collecting data on Lyme disease infection prevalence and tick burdens on mice.

Dr. Greg Shiver studies birds in the FRAME fragments.  He is looking at whether there is a link between invaded sites and the lack of calcium-rich prey important for breeding birds.

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Posted in Mid-Atlantic, Research, Rosa multiflora | Leave a comment