Category Archives: articles

The Invasion of Cattails: Narrow-leaved Cattail

5498581-LGPTThe unique feature of the velvety, brown cigar-shaped flowers and long, lanceolate leaves of the cattail are a common observed sight throughout Ohio wetlands.  Cattails have long been known to play an important role as food source and shelter for some marsh-dwelling animals.  However, with the invasion of the non-native cattail Narrow-leaved cattail, this no longer holds true because this plant species will exclude some less common species.  It quickly invades freshwater marshes, wet meadows, roadsides, and ditches.

The Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia) was introduced to the Atlantic seaboard from the dry ballast of European ships.  Since this introduction, it has quickly spread westward and occurs throughout the United States.  The non-native invasive Narrow-leaved cattail is similar in appearance to our native Broad-leaved cattail (Typha latifolia) and their habitats overlap in many areas.

This erect, aquatic freshwater perennial inhabits wetlands, river backwaters, bogs, fresh or brackish marshes, road sides, ditches, lakes and ponds.  Cattails can quickly dominate a wetland plant community and produce monotypic stands that reduce the overall habitat value.  Their roots produce dense rhizome mats and clustered leaves produce thick litter layer that may reduce the opportunity for other plants to establish or survive.  There are fewer insects and other invertebrates in monotypic stands of cattail.  The Narrow-leaved cattail is also allelopathic, producing chemicals which discourage growth of other plant species.

The long, linear leaves of the Narrow-leaved cattail emerge in the spring.  The blades are .15-.5 inches wide, up to 3 feet long, dark green, and rounded on the back of the blade.  There are 15 leaves per stock.  The flowers mature in mid-summer and are comprised of velvety brown, cigar-shaped spikes that are 2-6 inches long with a gap of .5-4 inches between male and female flowers.  Each spike can produce approximately 250,000 seeds in the fall that are dispersed by wind.  These seeds can remain viable in the seed-bank for up to 100 years.  It can also reproduce vegetatively by means of starchy underground rhizomes that form large colonies.  The Narrow-leaved cattail can reach 3-6 feet tall and thrives in nutrient rich or slightly saline soils.

Narrow-leaved cattail is considered to be a riparian dominance type that limits diversity in many wetland areas.  Many wetlands that once contained a diverse habitat for wetland wildlife now have solid stands of Narrow-leaved cattail.  Control can be an important consideration in these natural areas.

Further information on how to control narrow leaf cattails can be found here under the resources section: Author:  Amy Cordle

Identification and Management of Invasive Knotweeds

Techline  Invasive Plant News 09.07.2013 – Learn distinctive identification features for four invasive knotweeds and treatment recommendations based on current research.

swallow-wort – first release of a biological agent

Sep. 27, 2013 — University of Rhode Island entomologists reached a milestone in their efforts to control the invasive weed swallow-wort this month with the first release of a biological agent to fight the pest.

Jackson: Tree of Heaven not heavenly

Article from Jackson, Ohio about Tree of Heaven from the Telegram


The removal of an invasive plant species is not normally considered art, but a unique partnership between Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES Gallery is about to change that.

    Japanese-born artist Mimi Kato, a SPACES World Artist Program resident, created a participatory art installation at Sunset Pond in the North Chagrin Reservation that coincides with the Park District’s removal of the invasive species glossy buckthorn.

    To create the exhibit, Cleveland Metroparks Invasive Plant Management Crew used power and hand tools to remove large quantities of buckthorn shrubs around Sunset Pond. As the buckthorn was removed, Kato used reflective tape to represent each buckthorn stem, creating a one-of-a-kind outdoor art installation that will be visible from across the pond along the trail next to the pond.

    The exhibit will be in place from August 23 through October 17. To experience the installation, visitors must bring a flashlight or headlamp to the park in the evening. The exhibit is meant to be viewed by putting the flashlight next to your eyes and aiming it across the water to see lights reflected back by the tape. Each light represents a buckthorn plant that crew members cut and treated with herbicide.

    As Kato moved around the U.S. over the past six years, she noticed something strange: an abundance of plant life she recognized from her birthplace in Nara, Japan. Plants like Japanese knotweed, glossy buckthorn and kudzu made new landscapes unexpectedly familiar to her. Over time, Kato learned that these plants are extremely problematic invasive species in the U.S., disturbing the health and diversity of ecosystems. She was fascinated by the fact that plants she knew to be useful became damaging simply by being in the wrong place.

    Her work in both Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES highlights one of the most problematic invasive plants in the region, glossy buckthorn, and the efforts of invasive plant control crews to maintain an ecological balance in the Park District. The project allows the audience to appreciate the sheer volume of invasive species that threaten the ecological health of our region and aims to start a dialogue to discuss what impact we have on our surroundings and what role we want to play in creating our daily landscapes.

    Sunset Pond is located next to North Chagrin Nature Center, off Buttermilk Falls Parkway, off the Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin Reservation, off SOM Center Road/Route 91 in Mayfield Village. For more information, call 440-473-3370.

Brush off invasive species

Cleaning equipment and personal gear is an important preventative measure to reduce the spread of invasive plants. Follow this link for an article about how Minnesota is promoting this idea.

Hopefully we can get more individuals and organizations cleaning their equipment in Ohio.

Taking Back the Yard: Dealing with Invasive Plants

There’s nothing more frustrating for gardeners than discovering that their well-planned plots or rolling lawns have been infiltrated by invasive plant species, the perennial marauders of the back yard set. While many people panic and immediately start yanking or mowing the intruders when they first make their appearance, gardening expert Karen Snetselaar, Ph.D., chair and professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University, advises that it’s best to investigate the plant that’s choking your columbines or blighting your lawn before complicating the problem with an errant course of action.

See full article here…

Making a difference in your yard – swap out invasive common buckthorn and try a native plant instead

By RICK MEADER (MI), Thu, Jun 27, 2013 11:10 pm—trade-a-native-for-an-invasive/

Ailanthus tree’s status as invasive species offers lesson in human interaction

Researchers point to ailanthus as a prime example of the dangerous unpredictability of a non-native plant’s introduction to habitats and humans’ inadvertent aid in its spread and domination.