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Re: Proposed anti-plant legislation
> Date: Sun, 19 Jul 1998 21:05:34 -0400 (EDT)
> From: "Richard J. Sexton" <richard at aquaria_net>
> Living as I do, in an area thats mostly freshwater, with dozens of
> aquatic plant
> species, I'm having a hard time imagining how an aquatic plant can become
> endagered. Specifically, what aquatic species are endangered?
> I live in a rural area. We have plenty of grass. We have a river and
> a mill pond in our backyard. By the end of the summer it's chock full
> of maybe a dozen species of aquatic plants. This whole area is a huge
> watershed. I go foraging quite a but.
Richard, have you noticed those sheets of beautiful purple flowers that
cover just about every damp sunny surface in late summer? This is purple
loosestrife, a Eurasian wetland plant which has spread to densely cover
thousands of square miles in southern Canada and the northeastern US.
It grows densely enough to choke out just about every other plant, spreads
both vegetatively and by the production of innumerable tiny seeds, and is
responsible for turning these wetlands into monocultures devoid of native
plants and the animals, from insects to mammals and birds, that depend on
them for food and shelter. It's not an ecological disaster on par with
Lake Victoria, but it's a very real and very big problem. A lot of money
is being spent in efforts to control this plant, which started from garden
escapes. it has no natural enemies in North America, and a lot of the
research money is being used to find eurasian insects and diseases that
will feed on this plant or its seeds without attacking other species.
I used to live not too far from where you do now, and I remember seeing
the first small patches of purple loosestrife in roadside ditches and
edges of swamps. The spread of this plant over the past 20 years has been
explosive and appalling.