Unwelcome Guests

June 4, 2021

By Pat Loomis, Conservancy Volunteer Writer

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A weed is but a plant whose virtues remain undiscovered.”  I have believed that all these years, looking at the dandelions sprouting throughout my yard.  But invasive species such as  knapweed, poison hemlock, rush skeletonweed, scotch broom, and many others invading the Inland Northwest are bringing unhealthy changes to our natural habitat.

Spotted knapweed

These invasive species disrupt natural ecosystems and ecological processes.  They can outcompete the native species in the area.  They spread rapidly and reduce plant and animal diversity, obstruct waterways, reduce water levels, produce fire hazards and require costly and time-consuming restoration to the natural habitat.

Want to know more about these unwelcome guests? Check out the WSU Extension Manual-Invasive Weeds of Eastern Washington.  Two of the more pernicious weeds in our area are rush skeletonweed and spotted knapweed. Rush skeletonweed is native to Eurasia and the Mediterranean, and appeared near Spokane in 1938. Spotted knapweed was introduced to North America in the 1890’s as a contaminant in agricultural seed and through soil discarded from ship ballast. These two species pop up in areas with disturbed soil and thrive, taking over an area quickly.

Conservancy Stewardship Manager Rose Richardson regularly organizes volunteers to remove invasive weeds from areas we protect. To find the next opportunity to wage war against these threats to our local ecosystem, check out InlandNWLand.org/Events.