Bright purple flowers bloom in the sunlight atop long green stems

Mapping the Purple Menace

Monday, February 6, 2023

5 p.m. | Online

Spatiotemporal Distribution of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) Along Roadsides in Northern New York State

Speaker: Jessica Rogers, Ph.D., SUNY Potsdam

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a beautiful plant, obvious to any motorist in late July and August when the purple blooms create a lovely vista. However, this invasive species has also begun a march through our roadsides and wetlands to replace native wetland vegetation. While purple loosestrife, an herbaceous perennial reaching 2.5m in height, can grow in many different soil types, it tends to be found in cattail marshes, bogs, and will often be found in road-side ditches and along waterways. The problem with this is the robustness of the species, which grows in dense stands that begin to replace native vegetation. Ultimately, this becomes a threat to both local and migratory wildlife, particularly waterfowl that frequently use wetlands in the New York watershed as part of migratory routes.

Thankfully, there is a well-studied biological control to limit the invasion, an introduced leaf-eating beetle, Galerucella sp., which feeds exclusively on purple loosestrife. While purple loosestrife is a species listed by the NYS DEC as a regulated and prohibited plant, until 2017 it had not been well studied or documented within the St. Lawrence Valley ecosystem (upstate NY). In this talk, Dr. Rogers will discuss her work with new mapping techniques to monitor the spread and investigate targets for intervention, which is crucial for limiting the effects of this invasion.

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