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Pretty, but is it problematic? Help find and report squill

many blue siberian squill flowers growing in the grass
Squill is a small early flowering perennial. It is 4-8" tall, and its striking blue flowers each have 6 petals.

In my neighborhood, folks are putting stuffed bears in their windows so kids can go on a bear hunt. You can be a citizen scientist by going on a squill hunt! 

Scilla siberica, sometimes called squill, is a possibly troublesome garden plant and one of the first flowers to bloom this time of year. This perennial is commonly sold at garden centers as an early spring ephemeral, and gardeners have planted and enjoyed this small blue flower for years. Unfortunately, squill has proven to be good at producing seeds and spreading into adjacent woodlands, possibly outcompeting our native spring ephemeral flowers. 

Squill wasn’t on the radar of natural resource or invasive species professionals until City Nature Challenge participants, including Extension Master Naturalist volunteers, started reporting it in alarming numbers. Now we’re asking folks like you to keep an eye out for this small, blue flower and report it. For more information, please visit our new Squill Hunt: Find and report website.

A young boy hikes through a wooded area looking for emerging leaves in the ground.
Angie Gupta’s son, Amani, age 11, marks the spot where squill is emerging near Rochester.

Gathering better information on squill distribution and density is the first step in identifying whether or not this plant is a problem in Minnesota. The most powerful tool to manage invasive species is to find them early and manage them quickly. If you have squill on your property, please make sure it doesn’t spread. Want to take it out of your garden and try a native? Check out this great list of pollinator friendly plants, some of which may be good replacements for squill.

Angie Gupta is an Extension forestry educator based in Rochester, MN. Her work focuses on landowner outreach and invasive species management.

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