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Join in the Fight Against Invasive Plants

Do you know what an invasive species is?  It is a plant or organism that is not native to our environment, and one that can cause (or is likely to cause) harm to our environment, economy, and/or human health.  There are several different invasive species currently in Putnam County and the surrounding area including callery (Bradford) pear, garlic mustard, and Asian bush honeysuckle to name a few. Some invasive species are hard to identify, while others are easy to locate.  Likewise, controlling invasive species can be difficult and time consuming. 

Callery (Bradford) pear trees look pretty and have showy white flowers in the spring.  The leaves turn a dark crimson in fall.  The downfall of the showy flowers is that they have an unpleasant odor.  Although many have planted callery pears because of how showy they are; these trees are actually invasive and a nuisance.  They spread easily from an individual’s yard and end up in fields, the sides of the road, and numerous others places.  If you drive down the road, there are numerous examples of where “escaped” callery pears are blooming in places they were not planted. They crowd out native plants.  Another downfall of these trees is that they split fairly easily due to the angle their branches form against the trunk.  Serviceberry and Eastern redbud are great alternatives to planting callery pear trees.

Garlic mustard can be found in parks, backyards, forests, gardens, and along roadsides throughout Indiana. Garlic mustard prefers shady, moist conditions, such as woodland settings, but can also grow in sunny conditions. It is a biennial, which means that vegetative growth is in a “rosette” form close to the ground during the first year. In the second year, it produces an erect stem with small, white 4-petaled flowers that produce seeds, then it dies. Leaves on second-year growth are more triangular, becoming more strongly toothed as the plant matures.

Asian bush honeysuckle standout in a forest as the first shrubs to leaf out in the spring and the last to lose their leaves in the fall.  Stands of Asian bush honeysuckle grow so densely that they shade out everything on the forest floor. This greatly reduces the food and cover available for birds and other animals.  They can also prevent tree regeneration.

If you would like to learn more about invasive plants and help remove invasive plants in Putnam County, consider attending a Putnam County Remove Invasive Plants (PC RIP) group meeting or a monthly Weed Wrangle hosted by the group.  PC RIP meets monthly on the third Monday of the month at Putnam Co. SWCD Office (to confirm the date/location call 765-653-5716 ext. 3).  They host monthly Weed Wrangles around Putnam County, where the group actually removes invasive plants from a public location.  The next Weed Wrangle is April 27 from 9-11 am.  Please check out the Putnam County Remove Invasive Plant Facebook page (or call the number listed above) to find out more about the monthly meetings and the location of the Weed Wrangle.  The group would love to grow and have more individuals join who want to help prevent the spread of invasive plants.

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