Least Wanted: Purple Loosestrife

By Kelly Vowels

The Bernheim staff recently removed purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) from Cedar and Holly Ponds in the arboretum.

Purple Loosestrife is a beautiful but very aggressive invasive species that can overtake wet areas. Bernheim has been working on removing it for the past few years, and today we only have a few left around Cedar and Holly Ponds. It is a perennial that can quickly degrade wetlands, lakes, and drier areas.

It can grow so thick in places that other vegetation can’t compete, and the wildlife dependent on those areas can’t live.  It was introduced from Europe and Asia in the 1800s, and has quickly spread across the United States and Canada. Control of purple loosestrife is difficult and works best on small infestations.

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