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Serving: IN

Learn to identify these invasive species

Slideshow: Conservation groups in Indiana have declared war on invasive species.

There is an invasion underway across the state. It’s not a foreign power trying to move in. Instead, it’s an army made up of various species of aggressive plants. Many find that once they take root in Indiana, they enjoy the rich soils and climate here, and grow well.

“Often it’s at the expense of other native plants,” says Ray Chattin, Vincennes. The farmer, forester and Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor believes the threat from invasive plants is serious. He’s helping lead a charge to educate people about this seemingly hidden threat, hiding in plain sight.

The first step is to help people recognize some of the most common invasive species. Willem Drews, Knox County SWCD employee, works primarily at educating people about invasive plants. He holds field days, makes presentations and distributes material showing some of the more common species.

“People need to know what these plants look like,” he says. “Many of you have seen them, but don’t know their names or their growth habits. They can do lots of damage, especially in a woodlot.”

The problem is that invasive plants take over the understory beneath lower tree branches, Drews says. They grow so thick that natural reforestation may be affected. Desirable tree saplings that would eventually make marketable trees are often shaded out. Wildlife habitat is also affected. Some wildlife species that feed on native plants don’t like to forage on many invasive species. Heavy undergrowth can also affect their nesting habits.

In the first article of this series, six common invasive species are highlighted: buckthorn (glossy and European), kudzu, Asian bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet and wintercreeper.

Study the pictures in the slideshow carefully. Drews hopes this will help you identify these species when you see them in the future.

This is the first of a three-part series. For more information, email Drews at willem.drews@in.nacdnet.net.

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