Invasives in the News

November 19, 2021

Oftentimes, native plants and their invasive counterparts appear nearly indistinguishable to an untrained eye. These physiological similarities may allow the invader to remain undetected for years. This ability to remain concealed, hidden from early detection, paired with their competitive edge in resource acquisition is what allows them to turn into nuisances, capable of altering entire ecosystems. This secretive similarity in the nature of plant growth is an example of a case between two similar looking aquatic plants, Elodea and Hydrilla, which caused some excitement this summer.

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November 18, 2021

The VT FPR Invasive Plant Program is asking you to send in photos of invasive plants through the winter period to add to the dataset. Your photos can help increase our collective understanding of invasive plant phenology.

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Comparison of hybrid and parent species of honeysuckle. Left to Right: Morrow’s, showy, and tatarian honeysuckle leaves and flowers. Photo credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

November 17, 2021

Over 75% of Vermont is beautiful forests – with more than 80% of that being privately owned – but much of that forest land faces a significant forest health threat in the form of invasive plants. It is up to each of us to do our part, whether on our own land or in our communities, to help protect Vermont forests for future generations. Even small actions, like choosing locally evolved plants for your garden or pulling up garlic mustard on town trails add up to make a big difference. At the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, our burgeoning Invasive Plant Program is working to help steward Vermont’s state-owned public lands and, through grant funded programs, help communities do the same with support by trained professionals.

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September 27, 2021

Go take a hike. Or a walk. Or a drive. Whatever gets you outside and looking at plants! This was the directive Lina Swislocki, the VT Forests Parks & Recreation’s Assistant Invasive Plants Coordinator playfully gave to volunteer observers. During the second full week of each month from April to September, these observers take note of all things invasive plants – getting up close and personal to collect data on invasive plant phenology.

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Tree of heaven leaves

September 27, 2021

In mid-August, a concerned community member brought to the attention of scientists, the presence of an invasive insect. The insect, spotted lanternfly, had never been reported before in Vermont, and was first detected in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania, but has spread across the eastern US to 8 states.

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June 21, 2021

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive herbaceous biennial plant. It is thought to have originated in Europe where it was historically grown as food and medicine. It likely came to the Vermont region with colonizers in the 1600s – so long ago that many people don’t realize it didn’t evolve here – and has been widely seen in area woodlands since the late 1800s.

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June 21, 2021

Many Vermonters around the state are encountering gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar or LDD) caterpillars causing defoliation of their trees. This invasive insect arrived in the United States over 100 years ago and has been expanding its range ever since. LDD can be a significant defoliator (leaf eater) of trees and shrubs, and although they prefer oak trees, high populations will cause them to eat many types of leaves, including maple and pine. LDD  caterpillars can create a nuisance for homeowners, from the sights of caterpillars climbing the sides of residences and falling frass to the sounds of chewing on leaves.

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June 21, 2021

Several new detections of EAB in Vermont have expanded existing Infested Areas, including into two new counties. The new detections were found in the towns of Hartford (White River Junction), Brookfield, and Belvidere.

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Craspedacusta sowerbyi, or peach blossom fish or simply freshwater jellyfish

June 21, 2021

Craspedacusta sowerbyi, or peach blossom fish or simply freshwater jellyfish, are indigenous to the Yangtze River in China and were first observed in Vermont in 1999. Since 1999, freshwater jellyfish have been spotted in several Vermont lakes, ponds, and river across the state, so how were they introduced and are they a threat?

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Impatiens glandulifera flower

February 25, 2021

A member of the “touch-me-not” family (Balsaminaceae), Himalayan balsam also known as Indian balsam, Himalayan touch-me-not, Himalayan jewelweed, ornamental jewelweed, Pink jewelweed, Purple jewelweed, gnome’s hat stand, and kiss-me-on-the-mountain, among others, is native to central Asia, and was originally brought to Europe in the mid 1800’s. It has frequently escaped cultivation, now being present throughout continental Europe, throughout the UK, in most Canadian provinces, New England and the West Coast. Himalayan balsam prefers sites with wetter soils, and is commonly found in ditches, roadsides, railroad ROW, yards and gardens, but also along streams, floodplain forests, meadows, fields, early successional forests, and edge communities.

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January 20, 2021

On January 14th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ended the Federal Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) quarantine to place more emphasis on management and biological controls to combat the pest. In Vermont, while we continue to find new areas of infestation, our forests support overwhelmingly healthy populations of ash to protect as long as possible. Bearing that in mind, we urge Vermonters to continue to follow the “Slow the Spread” recommendations.

 

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October 6, 2020

Common barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a member of the barberry family (Berberidaceae), which includes native species like Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and mandrake (Podophylum peltatum), but there are no native members of the Berberis genus in New England. Species within the barberry family are perennial herbs or woody shrubs, all which have alternately arranged leaves. The woody shrub species in this family have spines located at nodes along the stems.

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Butomus umbellatus

October 1, 2020

Butomus umbellatus, or flowering rush, is a non-native perennial that was introduced from Eurasia in the late 1800’s as a garden plant. Popular for its showy umbrella of petite, pink flowers, since its introduction to North America, this “garden” species has become an invasive and is listed on Vermont and many other states noxious weed lists.

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July 2, 2020

In the Forest Insect and Disease Conditions Report for 2019, we shared that an isolated patch of what was suspected to be Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) was reported in Sandgate in late 2018 (Bennington County). At the time, there had not been botanical confirmation of the presence of that plant, because the site was treated as part of a private land management project. A potential roadside site for this plant was reported in October 2019 in Brattleboro (Windham County). It was previously thought to be absent from Vermont, but these recent sightings provided by the public through the Report It feature on VTinvasives.org, have led the Vermont Natural Heritage Program to photographically confirm the populations in Bennington, Rutland, and Windham County, but do not have vouchers.

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July 2, 2020

In our last issue of the VTInvasives e-newsletter, we discussed a new method of treating knotweed by using wire fencing laid horizontally on the ground over a patch of the offending species. Over the past two months, I have received several emails from readers asking some clarifying questions and looking for updates. I apologize for not being able to reply to everyone, and I hope that this article can provide an update with some answers.

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