Purple loosestrife poses serious threat to wildlife habitat

Purple loosestrife poses a major threat to wetland areas. DNR intern Crystal Krapfl, above, warns about these beautiful but detrimental plants. (Photo submitted)

By Crystal Krapfl

Invasive Species Intern

When you drive by the ponds along Highway 52 in Guttenberg, you may marvel at the beautiful dark purple flowers growing tall and aspiring for the sky. But in reality these picturesque plants are not picturesque for the environment at all. These plants go by the name of purple loosestrife and are actually considered an aquatic invasive species. 

How, you may wonder, are these plants detrimental to wetland ecosystems? Purple loosestrife is like that out-of-town land developer who moves in and starts staking out and buying land everywhere, outcompeting local small town businesses and homes. Or, in the case of purple loosestrife, it triumphs over native plants and therefore native animals. 

Everything in an ecosystem is related; so once native plants are kicked out, it makes it difficult for the wildlife and fish that rely on them for food and cover. Loosestrife can also degrade the aquatic areas where these animals reproduce and raise their young. In drier locations, purple loosestrife can encroach on crops and pasture land and in severe cases can also stop water flow in irrigation systems.

Continued from the pages of The Guttenberg Press

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