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Seeing Purple? Is It Loosestrife?

The “purple season” is ending in many Great Lakes wetlands. But there still might be time to use Sea Grant’s new identification card to tell whether the colorful plant you see blooming is purple loosestrife, and to learn what you can do to help control this exotic invasive species.

The identification card is the size of a standard business card and features a photo of the plant in flower and illustrations of the plant’s identifying features. It describes how the European plant is invading North American wetlands, roadside ditches, and moist areas. Thick stands of purple loosestrife can crowd out native plants, along with the insects, birds, and other wildlife that evolved in the native ecosystem.

The card also lists steps people can take to help prevent its spread to other areas, including learning to identify the plant, never transplanting it, and cleaning seeds from clothing and footwear after walking in infested areas.

Doug Jensen, Minnesota Sea Grant’s Exotic Species Information Center coordinator, says the card is similar to others Sea Grant has produced about species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian ruffe, and round gobies.

“It is important that people know they shouldn’t transplant purple loosestrife in their gardens, and they should avoid planting seed mixtures labeled with purple loosestrife,” said Jensen. In Minnesota, purple loosestrife is a prohibited exotic species. It is unlawful to possess, import, purchase, transport, or introduce this plant.

Single copies of this card, printed with support from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, are available free from Minnesota Sea Grant. Bulk quantities (100 or more) cost 7 cents each. To order, see the products list on our free order page, look for item X 69 under the exotics category.

By Sea Grant Staff
September 2000

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