Today we have for you, “The Mystery of the Rush Skeletonweed.” We’re not quite sure how it got here, only that it poses a real threat to local ranchers and wildlife.
Rush skeletonweed, chondrilla juncea, is a noxious weed that spreads by seed and horizontal roots. It has yellow flowers, wiry stems, and hardly any leaves. At a mature height of roughly a meter and a half, a single plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds.
Once introduced, it reduces forage for wild animals and livestock. It can bind up farm machinery if it gets into hay fields. It typically grows in dry grasslands, range lands, roadsides and generally any dry, disturbed area.
Part of invasive plant management is figuring out how the plants are introduced, so that you can prevent their spread. In the case of rush skeletonweed, a single plant was found on a dry hillside in the Grand Forks area two years ago.
It’s doubtful that it was introduced by humans, given that there were no hiking trails nearby. Instead, it seems to have been brought in by grazing deer, even though there didn’t appear to be any game trails. The nearest plant we then knew of was over 100 kilometres to the south, where the weed is a serious problem in Washington State.
We treated the plant we found on the spot, but its roots had spawned 11 new plants by the time we returned last year. These we treated as well, as we don’t want this aggressive plant spreading into the surrounding grasslands. So, the mystery continues as to how the first plant got to the site. We think there may be more in the West Boundary.
If you have seen rush skeletonweed in the area we want to know!
You can text photos of suspected weeds to the Boundary Invasive Species Society’s cell phone at 250-446-2232.
For more information, please email us at email@example.com, or look us up on Facebook. You can also visit our website www.boundaryinvasives.com.