A noxious weed could be returning to flowerbeds in Richland County, North Dakota.
Purple loosestrife, an invasive species, is known for its negative impacts on native plants. Steven Ginsbach, Richland County’s weed officer, is keeping residents aware of the resurgence.
“We are asking county residents to help relieve the possibility of a new explosion of this plant escaping from flowerbeds,” Ginsbach wrote. “This causes an expenditure of time and money to remedy a preventable situation.”
The North Dakota Century Code requires citizens to do all things necessary and proper to control the spread of noxious weeds.
“No person may distribute, sell or offer for sale within this state a noxious weed,” the code states.
Richland County borders Wilkin County, Minnesota, where purple loosestrife can also be a concern.
In Minnesota, it is a misdemeanor-level crime to possess, import, purchase, transport or introduce purple loosestrife. Permits are available for disposal, control, research or education purposes.
Several decades ago, Ginsbach continued, Richland County officials informed gardeners about purple loosestrife’s noxious weed status. Locals complied and removed the plants.
“In Valley City, the seeds from these invaders washed into the streets and then into the storm sewers which went into the Sheyenne River,” Ginsbach wrote. “Downstream, the purple loosestrife infestation was astronomical.”
Because of the extensive infestation, it took approximately 12 years to control the purple loosestrife population. Following this, southeast North Dakota counties adopted a mutual aid and awareness policy.
“The most identifiable characteristic of purple loosestrife is the striking rose to purple flowers,” according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. “The flowers are arranged on a spike, which can be a few inches to three feet long.”
Each flower has five to seven petals arising from a cylindrical green tube, the department continued. Purple loosestrife usually flowers from early July to mid-September in North Dakota.
“Wild infestations are associated with moist or marshy sites,” the agriculture department stated.
Purple loosestrife is native to Europe and Asia, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stated. It arrived in America through contaminated solid cargo ship ballast and deliberate importation of seeds.
Sold and planted for decades as a decorative plant, purple loosestrife is now illegal to sell in most states.
The purple loosestrife warning comes at the same time as advisories for Palmer amaranth and soybean sudden death syndrome.
Palmer amaranth, found last fall in Richland County, is known for its quick spread, resistance to herbicide and crop-damaging impact. It is identified by having a smooth, hairless stem and bracts on its female plants, among other characteristics.
Soybean sudden death syndrome is common in southern Minnesota and South Dakota. While not yet confirmed in Richland County, the disease has symptoms and pathogens which correspond with plant samples from Richland County.
For additional information, contact the NDSU Extension’s Richland County office. It’s open from 8-5 a.m. at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.