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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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Keeping an eye out for invasives. Volunteers scout their own backyards, nearby fields, and favorite parks, lakes and forests for troublesome species.

© Frank J. Koshere

June 2007

Sentinels to sound the alarm

Your rapid identification of the latest group of invasive plant species to plague Wisconsin may stem an unwelcome infestation.

Kelly Kearns
and Nicole Hayes

List and photos of invasive species [PDF 243KB]

It's a basic defense technique right out of the Middle Ages: Put more eyes on the lookout for invaders, and the interlopers will have less of a chance to scale the castle walls.


When the DNR and the UW-Madison Herbarium put out a call for volunteers to join Wisconsin's Invasive Plants of the Future initiative – a program with the aim of locating and controlling populations of new invasive plants likely to cause trouble in the future – many people took up the sentry posts, scouting their own backyards, nearby fields, and favorite parks, lakes and forests for troublesome species.

These alert volunteers keep their eyes open, and they've seen plenty. Thanks to their observations and reports, populations of unwelcome invasives we alerted you to in 2006, including Japanese hedge parsley, common and cut-leaf teasel, European marsh thistle, flowering rush, Japanese hops and black swallow-wort, have been identified. Control work is underway on a number of the plants found in forested areas, supported by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the diligent effort of several landowners, private contractors and community organizations. Giant hogweed infestations have spawned the development of a Cooperative Weed Management Area to contain this plant on both sides of the Wisconsin/Michigan border.

Fortunately, we do not yet know of any populations in Wisconsin of other plants in our past alert - Japanese stilt grass, spreading hedge parsley, pale swallow-wort, wineberry, European frog-bit, hydrilla or water chestnut. Keep watching for these species – they may show up at any time. The key to prevention is early spotting and prompt removal.

Here's a list of a new group of plants we expect to start spreading in Wisconsin very soon. Please keep an eye out for these invasives, and if you find any of these species, take a photo, collect a voucher specimen and quickly report the find to the Department of Natural Resources:

List and photos of invasive species [PDF 243KB]