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Danger in Disguise
"A beautiful purple menace
How can this seemingly harmless plant with pretty purple flowers be dangerous?
Purple loosestrife's beauty is deceptive. It is an aggressive, non-native flowering plant that is now destroying wetlands and fields across the country, and here in our own backyard!
Destroys wildlife habitat
Interferes with recreation
Encroaches on crops
Purple loosestrife can be confused with some native plants. Look for key characteristics noted below. Flower spikes bloom from June to September.
Although eradication of purple loosestrife is almost impossible, its damage can be controlled. The most effective time to take action is before the plant goes to seed.
Cut flower spikes before they develop seeds to prevent this year's seeds from producing more plants. Dispose of seed heads in plastic bags. A mature plant can produce over 2.5 million seeds annually.
Dig the plant from the ground but take care to remove the entire root system as pieces of root will sprout new plants. (A spading fork works well.) This approach works best if there are only a few plants, since purple loosestrife has complex pollination requirements. As with flower spikes, plants should be placed in plastic bags to be incinerated or put in a landfill (not in compost).
Chemical treatment is used when the stands of purple loosestrife are too large for manual control. (Applicators must be licensed to apply chemicals in and around water bodies in N H and VT.)
Biological controls are now being used in this country to fight
purple loosestrife. Five insect species which feed exclusively on purple
loosestrife in Europe have been approved for use as biocontrol agents in
North America. beetles have been released at several sites
First line defense:
As of January 1, 1998, the State of New Hampshire listed purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and several other plants as prohibited exotic plants, indicating the serious extent of the invasion of this plant.
Remove purple loosestrife from your property.
Be careful not to confuse it with look-alikes:
Don't plant purple loosestrife.
Possible substitutes are:
Ask your local nursery to stop selling Lythrum cultivars.
Contact a regional group, for help with control of Purple Loosestrife.