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  Purple Loosestrife
in the Great Lakes Region

What's New | Overview | General Resources | Related Resources
 
Current invaders:
Crustaceans: Rusty Crayfish | Spiny Water Flea
Fish: Goby (Round) | Goby (Tubenose) | Rudd | Ruffe | Sea Lamprey | White Perch
Mollusks: Quagga Mussel | Zebra Mussel
Plants: Curly-leaf Pondweed | Eurasian Watermilfoil | Phragmites (non-native) | Purple Loosestrife
Viruses: Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSv)
 
Potential invaders:
Fish: Asian Carp

[Invasive species home page]

 
What's New
Group to remove invasive plants from Belle Isle
The Times Herald (6/13)
A $470,000 federal grant is supporting a campaign to remove invasive plants from Detroit's Belle Isle that begins this summer.

Battle continues against non-native plants in EUP
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News (1/23)
Invasive plants have established a firm toehold in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, according to Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) Coordinator Nick Cassel.

Great Lakes Restoration grants aimed at weeding out invasive species
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (10/7)
On Oct. 2, the EPA announced 21 grants amounting to nearly $8 million to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes basin across seven states.

Lead in garden products & loosestrife beetles
The Environment Report (5/3)
This week's Environment Report highlights toxic substances found in common garden products, and the ways in which people in Michigan are using one non-native species to control another.

10 invasive species threatening Canadian habitats
CBC News (2/23)
From parasites to crabs and living slime affectionately dubbed "rock snot," invasive species can wreak havoc in a new habitat. Take a look at 10 non-native plants and animals that are disrupting ecosystems in Canada.

What you can do to protect the health of the Great Lakes
Daily Tribune (10/6)
There are around 185 invasive species in the Great Lakes region, including zebra mussels, sea lamprey and the plants such as phragmites and purple loosestrife. Nearly half of those have arrived via ocean-going freighters.There are a number of actions you can take to prevent the spread of invasive species.

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Overview
Purple Loosestrife Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a wetland plant from Europe and Asia. It was introduced into the east coast of North America in the 1800s. First spreading along roads, canals and drainage ditches, then later distributed as an ornamental, this exotic plant is in 40 states and all Canadian border provinces.
 
A stand of loosestrife The plant can form dense, impenetrable stands that are unsuitable as cover, food or nesting sites for a wide range of native wetland animals, including ducks, geese, rails, bitterns, muskrats, frogs, toads and turtles. Many rare and endangered wetland plants and animals also are at risk.
 
Purple loosestrife thrives on disturbed, moist soils, often invading after some type of construction activity. Eradicating an established stand is difficult because of an enormous number of seeds in the soil. One adult can disperse 2 million seeds annually. The plant is able to resprout from roots and broken stems that fall to the ground or into the water.
 
Close-up of a loosestrife flowering spike A major reason for purple loosestrife's expansion is a lack of effective predators in North America. Several European insects that only attack purple loosestrife are being tested as a possible long-term biological control in North America.
 
Likely means of spread: Seeds escape from gardens and nurseries into wetlands, lakes and rivers. Once in aquatic systems, seeds are easily spread by moving water and wetland animals.
 
Photo Credits: Paula McIntyre; and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network.
 
References: A Field Guide to Aquatic Exotic Plants and Animals, University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program

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General Resources
Habitattitude
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Adopt a conservation mentality: Protect our environment by not releasing unwanted fish and aquatic plants into the wild. Find out what you can do to help this growing problem on this site.

Invasive Plant Council of New York State
This group provides coordination and guidance on the management of invasive plants to protect biodiversity in New York State. Includes a list of the state's top 20 most invasive species, along with photos, and information on biology, range and habitat.

Purple Loosestrife
Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission
Information concerning the exotic plant in the ceded territories of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Also includes an interactive, GIS database of purple loosestrife locations, and a photo gallery.

Purple Loosestrife Control Agents
Cornell University
The following European natives (a weevil and two beetles) were introduced in 1992 as part of a 5-15 year program to control purple loosestrife, an exotic weed infesting North American wetlands. Release sites include all eight Great Lakes states, as well as sites in Canada. Weevils: Hylobius transversovittatus and Nanophyes marmoratus; Beetles: Galerucella calmariensis and G. pusilla.

Purple Loosestrife Management in the National Wildlife Refuge System
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
This site focuses on control measures in the NWRS.

Purple Loosestrife: What You Should Know, What You Can Do
Minnesota Sea Grant
Includes history of the purple loosestrife invasion in North America, guidelines for distinguishing loosestrife from native look-alikes, and information on various control methods.

Purple Pages
Purple Loosestrife Project at Michigan State University
Learn more about the MSU biological control project, which engages citizens and young adults in the control of purple loosestrife using the plantís own natural enemies.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Agencies and Organizations, Flora
GLIN: Fish and Fisheries in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Plants of the Great Lakes Region

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Updated: September 1, 2014
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