Online resources available for identification and control of Michigan invasive plant species

Online Michigan invasive species resources area can help identify and respond rapidly to invasive plants in an effort to protect Michigan’s diverse ecosystems.

Michigan has a great variety of native plants, or those that have naturally evolved in Michigan and which have existed in the state prior to European settlement. Undoubtedly you have heard about at least one invasive plant that is wreaking havoc on Michigan’s ecosystems and has had a negative impact of some kind, whether it be ecological, economic, social and/or public health.

Unfortunately, invasive species are the second biggest threat, with habitat destruction being the biggest threat, to Michigan’s native diversity. They have already had major impacts on nearly all of the state’s natural communities. Invasives are literally found everywhere in Michigan. They are present throughout our waterways, along roadsides, in forests and natural areas, in rural, urban and suburban areas.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) defines invasive plants as “non-native, rapidly reproducing species which threaten the integrity of natural areas. Once established in an area, invasive species can have devastating effects.” Once established, they often out-compete native species for limited resources such as food and habitat, alter and damage existing habitat, displace native species and in some cases prey directly upon native species. All told, invasive species have been identified as serious threats to global and local biodiversity. Early detection and rapid response is the key to minimizing their impacts.

A number of online resources can help identify invasive species, determine appropriate control methods, and also allow individuals the opportunity to report the occurrence of invasive species should they happen to encounter them.

The MDNR maintains an extensive set of invasive species information resources including up-to-date news, instructions for reporting invasive species, pertinent laws/regulations, and control/management. They have also partnered with Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) to produce a series of “Best Control Practices” for a number of the most widespread invasive species currently found in Michigan. These guides give comprehensive information on identification, planning a control program, control guidelines, and quick reference to controls/herbicides. Best Control Practice Guides are available for Japanese barberry, oriental bittersweet, autumn olive, glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, common buckthorn, black locust, and black and pale swallow-worts. For more information about these guides, read the Michigan State University Extension article, “Best Control Practice Guides available from Michigan Features Inventory.”

MNFI also offers educational resources for volunteers and professionals to identify, assess, and control invasive plant species in Michigan’s natural communities. Included are the Michigan Invasive Plant Species Accounts for species that have been noted as invasive or having invasive tendencies in Michigan and for which early detection and eradication is critical to prevent further damage to natural areas, and several invasive species field guides.

Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) is a regional effort led by Michigan State University whose aim is to develop and provide early detection and rapid response (EDRR) for invasive species. These resources are designed to assist experts and citizen scientists in the detection and identification in support of the successful management of invasive species. Resources include a system for citizens to report sightings using a smartphone application and view observations reported by others, a searchable database of reported invasive species distributions, a news channel, and forty-five E-learning species identification modules.

There are also other invasive plant resources are available:

For the latest news on invasive species, view the Invasive Species section on the MSU Extension website. For resources on native plant species, read the MSU Extension article, Michigan native species resources can help you make smart choices for the environment.

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