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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Purple loosestrife can be seen in patches along the St Joseph River.

Beautifully designed for invasion

Purple Loosestrife is beautiful plant with spikes of purple flowers but it invades wetlands in clumps that multiply fast and choke out native vegetation. This eliminates food and cover for many wildlife species, which are dependent on a diverse mixture of native species to survive.

I have been noticing a lot of Purple loosestrife on the banks of the St. Joseph River this summer. I even have it growing on the riverbank in my yard. I haven't noticed it before, but it is so well established that it must have just not noticed it.

Yesterday I cut a garbage bag full of just the flowers because much of it was ready to go to seed. I put the bag in my trashcan. I believe composting would only aid its invasion in my yard. Since this also spreads through by rhizomes, I will need to find some way to kill this out.

I can't dig it out because it is coming up through rocks. I can't pull it out because the roots are too established. Believe me I have tried this already. I was hard enough just clipping off the flowers because I had stand on wobbly rocks along the river and almost fell in several times.

I am thinking on a dry sunny day I should take use a herbicide full strength and paint it on the plants. This would keep me from killing the plants that I want to grow on the riverbank and keep it out of the water if I am careful. But before I do anything, I am going to visit the Allen County Extension Service, 4001 Crescent Ave., and talk to some master gardeners.

Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer), Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer), Frank Noonan (copy editor) and Cathie Rowand (photographer)