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Purple Loosestrife Illinois

Purple Loosestrife Illinois

Purple Loosestrife Illinois

Purple Loosestrife occurs occasionally in NE Illinois and scattered counties elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It was introduced into the United States from Europe as a horticultural plant because of the showy flowers. Habitats include fens, marshes, borders of ponds and rivers, and ditches. This is species is still grown in flower gardens, using hybrids that are supposedly sterile. However, research has revealed that many of these hybrids can form viable seeds when wild forms of Purple Loosestrife are present in a given locality as a result of cross-pollination between these two groups of plants. Purple Loosestrife often escapes from cultivation and invades wetlands, sometimes forming dense stands that exclude other plants. This plant has become a major problem in Wisconsin and some of the northeastern states.

Purple Loosestrife

My friend Herschel and I paddled over to one patch near Riverfront Park in Bourbonnais, but on the opposite riverbank, only to find it was my worst fear — purple loosestrife. I knew about it already because I am currently battling a huge army of it for work at Indian Ridge Marsh in Chicago. That on-the-job experience led me to write this article as a word of caution.Purple loosestrife will hybridize with European wand loosestrife (Lythrum virgatum) and winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) [3,92]. A number of different horticultural cultivars have been developed from purple loosestrife and wand loosestrife. Although some are purported to be sterile, crosses within and between cultivars and wild Lythrum spp. are often compatible, and identification of cultivars and crosses is problematic [92,118].

Purple Loosestrife occurs occasionally in NE Illinois and scattered counties elsewhere (see Distribution Map). It was introduced into the United States from Europe as a horticultural plant because of the showy flowers. Habitats include fens, marshes, borders of ponds and rivers, and ditches. This is species is still grown in flower gardens, using hybrids that are supposedly sterile. However, research has revealed that many of these hybrids can form viable seeds when wild forms of Purple Loosestrife are present in a given locality as a result of cross-pollination between these two groups of plants. Purple Loosestrife often escapes from cultivation and invades wetlands, sometimes forming dense stands that exclude other plants. This plant has become a major problem in Wisconsin and some of the northeastern states. The flowers attract long-tongued bees and butterflies, including Bombus spp. (Bumblebees) and the butterfly Pieris rapae (Cabbage White). The seeds are too small to be of any interest to birds, and it is unclear to what extent mammalian herbivores feed on the foliage. There have been attempts recently to release leaf beetles from Europe as a biocontrol measure. This species probably provides cover to some wetland species of birds because of its tall dense vegetation. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)

 

 

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