Purple loosestrife is a competitive plant that may quickly displace native species if allowed to grow. Once established, purple loosestrife's copious seed production and thick canopy restrict the growth and regeneration of native plant communities. The plant's dense foliage also provides valuable shelter for animals during cold winters.
Competition with other plants for sunlight and nutrients can be intense, especially between loosestrife and more shade-tolerant species such as meadowsweet. However, under these conditions, loosestrife has an advantage because it grows rapidly and produces seeds early in its life. As the offspring of mature plants are distributed over a large area, they provide better coverage of resources, including sunlight and nutrients. This allows them to spread more effectively than seedlings which must compete with neighbors for light and soil space.
In addition, the toxic chemicals present in loosestrife's leaves and stems protect it from being eaten by animals that would otherwise consume it. Animals avoid eating the plant because any food or beverage made from its roots causes diarrhea.
Finally, the dense clusters of flowers attract pollinators such as bees, wasps, and butterflies, who will transfer pollen from flower to flower on their travels. Pollination is important for flowering plants like loosestrife because without it, most seeds would not develop into plants.
The Effects of Purple Loosestrife It diminishes biodiversity by pushing out native plants. Purple loosestrife can block irrigation ditches, ruin cropland, and impair pasture fodder value. The plant contains toxic chemicals that can be harmful when ingested or absorbed through your skin. These toxins can cause cancer if you eat too much of it, or harm your heart if you touch it without washing first.
Purple loosestrife grows in dense stands and spreads by rhizomes. It can grow up to 3 feet high and produce white flowers in late spring before leafing out with blue-green leaves that turn brown in fall. The plant is found across North America in dry open areas such as roadsides, meadows, and disturbed soil. Although not usually invasive, it can become a problem in large populations.
This plant has many names including Indian grass, water avens, and ballhead. It is believed to have originated in Asia and was later introduced to North America via shipping containers.
In addition to being unattractive, purple loosestrife is difficult to kill once it takes hold in an area. Removing the plants will only help them regrow from underground stems called rhizomes. For permanent control, try planting species preferred by other wildlife such as sunflowers or buckwheat.
Purple loosestrife likes wet organic soils, variable water levels, and full sun, all of which may be stressful to many native plants. This plant, on the other hand, may live in a variety of situations associated with disturbed locations, such as building sites. It can tolerate moderate drought, poor soil, and cutting for use in lawns.
The main thing that determines whether purple loosestrife will grow in an area is how much water it gets. If the soil is dry, then this plant will not grow there. If it gets enough water, however, it can spread rapidly and become invasive. Purple loosestrife seeds are light-sensitive and will not germinate if they are kept inside too long. So if you want to prevent this problem, just leave the seeds out in the open where they will get sunlight and begin to decompose. When they do go to seed, these are called "crowns" and they contain all of the information needed for more plants. As soon as the seeds germinate, they need to be removed because otherwise more seeds will develop that same trait. Otherwise, the entire population will suffer from infertility.
In addition to being wet, organically rich soil, purple loosestrife needs full sun. While this may be good for other plants, it can be difficult for some types of flowers and vegetables to thrive in such conditions.
Purple loosestrife destroys natural ecosystems including wetlands and riparian regions, diminishing biological diversity by competing with native flora. Wildlife that relies on natural flora for food, shelter, and breeding grounds is being forced to abandon habitats that have been overrun by purple loosestrife. Animals can also be affected by purple loosestrife by consuming the plants' seeds or contact with the chemicals in the plant. Severe cases of purple loosestrife poisoning have been reported to cause death to birds such as ducks, geese, and swans.
Introduced in America during the 19th century, purple loosestrife has become a serious invasive species in many parts of the country. The plant's dense clusters of deep-purple flowers attract bees and other insects which spread its seeds via wind and water. Once established, purple loosestrife cannot be eradicated because of its resistance to drought and heat. Finding ways to control and/or remove this plant will help preserve our biodiversity.
If you come into contact with purple loosestrife, do not eat it nor touch its leaves or seeds without proper protection. If you are an animal keeper, refrain from giving your pets any part of the plant unless instructed to do so by a wildlife professional.
People who work with plants outside may be exposed to purple loosestrife through skin contact. This occurs when the plant's oils seep out and irritate the skin.
Purple loosestrife spreads mostly from seed. When blossoms fall off, capsules holding a large number of small seeds sprout in their place. Each mature plant has the potential to generate up to 2.7 million seeds every year. Seeds, which are as little as grains of sand, are easily distributed by water, wind, animals, and humans.
The appearance of purple loosestrife in newly plowed soil indicates that it is an invasive species likely brought here as a garden plant or for use in turf. It can also be found growing in waste areas near roads where vehicles have disturbed the soil.
Once established, it is difficult to get rid of purple loosestrife because of its hardy nature and ability to grow in poor soil. The only sure way to prevent it from spreading is by not distributing its seeds.
In conclusion, purple loosestrife spreads mainly from seed but also through rhizomes (underground stems that spread out below the surface of the soil). Plants take several years to develop into strong germinants (seedlings) that will eventually produce more plants like themselves. Invasive species such as purple loosestrife are a threat because they are able to survive in different habitat types including forests, fields, and even wildlands where they can inhibit the growth of other plants and cause genetic changes to important species.