Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - to identify and control the invasive plant species that severely impact native biodiversity

Tina Casagrand

2nd Annual Invasive Species Day at Missouri State Fair 2018

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) had a great time at the MO State Fair on Friday, August 10! We were thrilled to be among other important organizations participating in last week’s invasive species collaboration/education event. Thank you to the steady stream of people who came to learn about invasive species causing economic or environmental harm in Missouri.

This Facebook Live video by MDC is a tad choppy, but it captures the essence of the collaboration!

Photos by Nate Muenks and Tina Casagrand:

MDC, MoDOT, Missouri Prairie Foundation collaborate on Invasive Species Strike Team

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments
Click here to listen to the KRCU interview with MoIP vice-chair Nate Muenks.

Invasive weeds will no longer have “the right of way” for over 700 miles of southeast Missouri roads.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) have partnered to work with contractors to eliminate invasive plants along roadways from the top of Ste. Genevieve County, all the way to the southern border of Missouri. According to Nate Muenks, MDC’s habitat management coordinator, 723 miles of roadways will be spot treated for invasive plants, in a phased approach.

“MDC is thrilled to partner with MoDOT, MPF and the contractors to take this proactive approach against the threat of invasive plants,” Muenks said. “When invasive plants are left to thrive, they choke out native plants. The reduction in native plants can destroy valuable habitat and is very hard on our wildlife populations.”

Of the 723 miles of highway that will be spot treated for invasive plants, 165 miles are along Interstate 55. The other 558 miles are along roadways connecting to the Interstate, all near or in Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA). COAs are geographical areas where broad conservation goals are best met. MDC, with the help of conservation partners, identifies COAs throughout the state where investments in the prioritized areas can increase the likelihood of long-term success, maximize effectiveness over large landscapes, improve funding efficiency and promote cooperative efforts with other agencies for benefits that cross property lines.

Muenks said MDC, MoDOT, MPF and the contractors all see the value in working together to combat the prolific spread of invasive plants.

“Our roadways are a major traveling corridor, for not only public transportation but also in the spread of invasive weeds,” said Mark Aufdenberg, a MoDOT roadside manager. “It’s surprising how invasive seeds are spread through vehicle movement, so if we can treat our roadways and stop them before they go onto other properties and conservation areas, that’s a good thing.”

Aufdenberg said the cooperative project supplements MoDOT roadside management and allows MoDOT employees to focus more time on maintaining roadway surfaces and safety.

“Having the help from contractors and other agencies is a big benefit to us,” Aufdenberg said. “We don’t want to give invasive weeds the right of way.”

Aufdenberg said the contractors will not broadcast spray herbicides across the entire roadsides, but will instead spot-spray, targeting only the invasive plants.

“This targeted, specific approach will protect the good plants, while targeting the bad,” he said.

MPF agrees that the state’s roadways provide connectivity across the state, and not just for people. The MPF is a private, nonprofit, conservation organization with a mission to protect and restore prairies and other native grasslands, some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the state.

“We’re very concerned with the control of invasive species on the property we own and we’re very pleased to work in partnership with MDC, MoDOT and the other entities involved in this project,” said Carol Davit, MPF’s executive director. “Invasive plants pose real environmental and economic threats to our state, and collaboration is key in this fight.”

Davit said the project is also important because the work is happening in highly trafficked areas.

“Because this work is very visible along the roadways, we hope to inspire Missourians, and travelers in general, to be vigilant and take action against invasive plants on their own property as well,” Davit said.

Aufdenberg asks drivers in southeast Missouri to watch out for the contractors as they work along the roadways. Drivers will see large, orange, diamond shaped signs that say, “Invasive Plant Strike Team” where workers are spraying.

“Please slow down and give them some room as they work,” Aufdenberg said. “Safety is most important in our roadside projects.”

Muenks said MDC can help private landowners who want to eliminate invasive plants and improve wildlife habitat on their land. More information for landowners is available atwww.mdc.mo.gov/property.

Drivers will see work along 723 miles of roadways as Missouri’s cooperative Invasive Species Strike Team works to spot treat invasive plants. This proactive approach will protect the good plants while targeting the ones that don’t belong in the region. (MDC photo)

“Plant This, Not That!” Posters Now Available

“Plant This, Not That! Native Missouri Trees to Plant Instead of Invasive Callery/Bradford Pear” is an 11-poster set (title page + 10 species) inspired by the “Stop the Spread” campaign and designed by Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. Now available in the following formats:

Why Not Callery Pear? Title Poster for “Plant This, Not That!” series

Awards given for fighting invasive plants, increasing native habitat

Awards given for fighting invasive plants, increasing native habitat
Left to right: Laura Hillman, Allison Vaughn, Bill Mees, and John Besser accepted the 2018 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award on behalf of Columbia Audubon Society at a ceremony on Wednesday, April 25. The awards were designed by Columbia glass artist Susan Taylor Glasgow. Photo by Nancy Bedan.

– by Nancy Bedan, on Columbia Audubon Society website

At a ceremony on April 25, the City of Columbia recognized the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) for its work in habitat restoration at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS) and for its community outreach and education programs. Eight organizations and businesses received the 2018 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award, an honor created in 2014 to recognize businesses and organizations that excel in sustainable practices and promote a culture of environmental responsibility. Both CAS and the Columbia Public Schools Science Department received awards in the Environmental Stewardship category. The CAS citation (view a short video here) read:

“For their countless efforts to restore and protect the environment through community outreach and educational opportunities, the Columbia Audubon Society has earned a 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award. By providing a beautiful landscape for visitors and increasing native habitat for a variety of pollinators, they have made a lasting impact on our community.”

The CPS Science Department, under the leadership of Mike Szydlowski, was honored for surpassing its goal of removing one million invasive bush honeysuckle plants and for collecting long-term plant diversity data…

Read the full story here.

Missouri Noxious Weed Law – Not Right for Callery Pear

 

When the Missouri Department of Conservation posted about stopping the spread of Callery pear, there were several good questions and comments about legal ramifications for distributing invasive plants. We will address some of them here.

 

“If Callery pear trees are a problem, why are they sold at almost all home stores?”

It is not illegal to sell Callery pear. While many small nurseries are aware of the problem and no longer carry Callery cultivars, large stores with national purchasing programs still stock Callery on their sales floor.

The only Missouri law concerning invasive plants is the Noxious Weed Law 263.190, which identifies only 12 species of plants. Most of those species are commonly known to threaten agricultural land.

The Noxious Weed Law comes with two legal mandates:

  • Noxious weeds may not be sold.
  • Landowners must control and/or eradicate these particular weeds.

Since Callery pears are planted on countless lawns and landscapes, the second mandate would require all private homeowners to cut down their pear trees. That would be highly unpopular. Plus, there aren’t enough resources to enforce the law.

Failure to comply with the Noxious Weed Law is a misdemeanor. County prosecutors enforce it.

 

“Ban the things. Other states do. They cannot be shipped there.”

Currently, adding a plant to the Noxious Weed Law list requires review and approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

However, to create a new designation of plants that are banned from sale (and not require landowners to control) would require changing statutes through the legislative process.

The State of Ohio recently passed new legislation that bans the sale of 30+ species of known invasive plants (read law here). Missouri agencies are aware of the legislation. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force is currently reviewing the spread of invasive species statewide in order to make research-based recommendations regarding new rules.

 

“Could the USDA be petitioned to stop the sale?”

We prefer to educate the public rather than pursue top-down measures.

 

“What can I do to stop the spread?”

Spread something else: spread the word! Tell the story about how ornamental pears are cross-breeding with cousins, and how it’s becoming a big problem for roadways, empty fields, and other landscapes in Missouri. Contact your city officials, legislators, and governor, to express your thoughts on Callery pear and other invasive species. Advocate for solutions at all levels of your community.

About Noxious Weed Law, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture

The State of Missouri has designated twelve weed species as noxious.

Weeds on this list are designated as such because they can cause economic harm to the state’s agriculture industry and because of the high level of difficulty associated with controlling or eradicating the species. For more information visit Noxious Weed Control (http://agriculture.mo.gov/plants/ipm/noxiousweeds.php)

Plant This, Not That: 10 Native Trees to Plant in Place of Callery Pear

Plant This, Not That: 10 Native Trees to Plant in Place of Callery Pear
Prunus virginiana (chokeberry or chokecherry) is a small, suckering tree or large shrub with attractive white flowers on 3-6″ long clusters in spring. Fruit is red, ripening to purple in fall. Grow as a screen or as an understory planting as it has unusual shade tolerance for a cherry. Learn more and find nurseries, landscape services and more at: http://grownative.org/plant-picker/plant/chokeberry/ Chokeberry photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Frank D. Lospalluto. Bradford Pear photo from MDC.

“My heart is broken.” A woman dipped her head back and sighed as cars zoomed behind her and freshly cut tree trunks lay bucked up in scattered rows. A long row of Bradford pear trees, a cultivar of Callery pear (Pyrus calleryanna), had bloomed in her Kansas community for years, and now they were gone. “This is the best part of our neighborhood,” she told a news reporter.

It’s easy to see what she loved about Callery pear trees: billions of white flowers put on shows in early spring and waxy red leaves blaze in the fall. As a plus, they grow fast to fill in new developments.

Of course, a closer look reveals many reasons for a neighborhood to cut down all their Callery pears.

For one, Callery pear blossoms smell terrible. Their showiness resembles a vain monarch who’s trying too hard to impress. Even HGTV recommends finding an alternative to Bradford (Callery) pear trees, due in part to the way their branches break easily in wind or ice storms. And of course, there’s the way the cultivars’ cross-breeding causes big problems as an invasive plant.

While we at the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force call for stopping the sale of invasive plants such as Callery pear, we know many people may ask, “If I cut down my Bradford pear tree, what should I replace it with,” or, “What should I plant instead of a Bradford or Callery Pear?”

Fortunately, many alternatives are available from Grow Native! retailers and wholesalers.

The following are 10 native Missouri trees we recommend planting in place of Callery pear. These species not only challenge Callery pear in springtime beauty and/or fall color, but they also support the local ecosystem by providing food to wildlife that have coevolved with the trees over millennia. You can’t get much better than that.

This list was inspired by the City of Columbia’s “Stop the Spread” campaign to manage the threat of invasive Callery pear tree hybrids.

Learn more about these and other Missouri native plants on the Grow Native! Native Plant Database.

 

1. Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw Viburnum)

Viburnum prunifolium (black haw viburnum) have flat heads of white flowers in the spring. Birds eat the purple-black fruit in the fall. The edible fruit tastes like raisins. Grow as a small tree or multi-stemmed shrub. The leaves develop a beautiful red color in fall. Viburnum photos by Fritz Flohr Reynolds and Suzanne Cadwell. Bradford Pear photos by Bruce Henry and MDC.

 

2. Prunus americana (Wild Plum)

Prunus americana, Wild Plum, can be grown as a single trunk tree or multi-stemmed shrub. The pure white, fragrant flowers are among the first to open in spring. Heavier flowering in sun. Yellow to red, round, edible fruits, 1″ in diameter. Host to Red-spotted Purple Butterfly and many moths. Wild plum photos by Becky Erickson.

 

3. Ostrya virginiana (Ironwood or Eastern Hophornbeam)

Ostrya virginiana (ironwood or Eastern hop hornbeam), is a tough understory tree with beautiful birch-like leaves, grayish-brown flaky bark, fine-textured drooping branches, and attractive hop-like fruits. Ironwood is considered one of Illinois’ toughest native hardwoods and is not only ornamental but resistant to many disease and insect problems.

Ironwood photos from Flickr user Katja Schulz and Missouri Botanical Garden. Bradford pear photos from John Nekola and Flickr user wplynn.

 

4. Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) bears prolific, edible, deep pink flowers in early spring. Red-purple, pea-shaped seed pods follow the flowers. Heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall.
Eastern redbud photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Matthew Beziat. Bradford pear photos by Martin LaBar and Amanda Nichols.

 

5. Amelanchier arborea (Serviceberry)

Amelanchier arborea (serviceberry) is a tall shrub or small tree bearing clusters of fragrant white flowers in April. Flowers give rise to very flavorful, red to purple-black, berrylike fruits relished by both songbirds and people. This lovely tree has colorful fall foliage in a blend of orange, gold, red and green. Serviceberry photos by Flickr users Dan Mullen and RJ. Bradford pear photos by Martin LaBar and Amanda Nichols.

6. Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam)

Carpinus caroliniana (American Hornbeam) is a small to medium multi-stemmed tree forming wide spreading rounded tops. A subtle beauty often overlooked. Simple toothed leaves are dark green and have variable yellow, orange, red or reddish purple fall color. Beautiful thin, bluish-gray bark that appears to “ripple” as the tree matures. Hence another common name: “Musclewood.” Hornbeam photos by Flickr users Wendy Cutler and Paco Garin. Bradford Pear photos by wplynn and Roger Smith.

7. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) is a small, low-branched tree with spreading horizontal branches. Distinctive white flowers, 3″ in diameter, bloom mid-April to mid-May. Clusters of glossy red fruit in fall persist into winter and are relished by birds. Consistent deep red fall leaf color. Dogwood photos by Steve Harwood and Plant Image Library. Bradford pear photo courtesy MDC.

8. Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)

Nyssa sylvatica (black gum) is one of our most beautiful and underused native trees. Makes an excellent specimen tree, tidy shape. Attractive, glossy, dark green leaves that turn yellow, orange, and scarlet red in fall. Bark is dark gray to almost black, alligator-like patterns when old. Fruit the size of navy beans ripen to a dark blue in fall and are a favorite food to many birds. Host for the black and white Hebrew Moth. Learn more and find nurseries, landscape services and more at Grow Native! Black gum photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Leonora (Ellie) Enking. Bradford Pear photos by wplynn and Roger Smith.

9. Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood)

Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood): very underused native that will fool some into thinking it is an exotic beauty! Medium sized tree, good for small areas, rich pea-green compound leaves with soft golden yellow fall color. The breathtaking, fragrant, creamy-white flowers occur in May on pendulous 8-14″ long panicles. Rarely heavily flowers annually, usually alternate flowering. The bark is very smooth and gray.

Yellowwood photos from Flickr user Tom Gill and Grow Native! Bradford pear photos from John Nekola and MDC.

10. Prunus virginiana (Chokeberry or Chokecherry)

Prunus virginiana (chokeberry or chokecherry) is a small, suckering tree or large shrub with attractive white flowers on 3-6″ long clusters in spring. Fruit is red, ripening to purple in fall. Grow as a screen or as an understory planting as it has unusual shade tolerance for a cherry.
Chokeberry photos from Grow Native! and Flickr user Frank D. Lospalluto. Bradford Pear photo from MDC.

 

Did you find this blog post useful? Please share these images on Instagram, share our gallery on Facebook, and encourage your neighbors to replace Bradford pear with native Missouri alternatives!

Western Governors List 50 Worst Invasive Species

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments
Invasive species pose an enormous environmental challenge to western states and
territories. Western Governors have experienced first-hand how these invaders
affect the region’s forests and rangelands, water, and agriculture. Left unchecked,
invasive species permanently alter ecosystems and negatively impact the native
species and local economies that depend upon them.

Read more and see the list from the Western Governor’s Association.