On this week’s episode of Earthlinks, host Deb Biechler talks about nature’s most lethal plants and how they affect our environment. To help answer some questions, she speaks with Michael Putnam, a Wisconsin DNR Invasive Plants Environmental Specialist, to help her gain clarity on how powerful these plants are. The main two plants discussed throughout this conversation are Garlic Mustard and Buckthorn because of the danger they present to Wisconsin’s native plants.
To get the conservation started, Deb asks Michael: What is the difference between a weed and an invasive plant? Michael says that a weed is a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow and it’s a native plant; an invasive plant is not a native plant to Wisconsin, causes environmental & economic harm, and is harmful to human health. Deb and Michael switch gears to discuss the effects of Buckthorn. Buckthorn crowds out the plants you want and produce chemicals that are secreted into the soil and this inhibits the growth of other plants. Garlic Mustard has these similar effects as well. Garlic Mustard takes over the forest floor, shows up in people’s yard, crowds out native plants, and produces lethal chemicals that flow into the soil and stop the growth of other plants. Michael offers special instructions on disposing 2 year Garlic Mustard. He recommends not placing them in a compost pile because their seeds can grow and spread but rather putting them in a sealed plastic bag, labeling it invasive plants, and then sending it to a landfill.
For more information about invasive plants, please contact Michael Putnam at 608-266-7596 or email him at Michael.Putnam@wisconsin.gov.