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University of Minnesota Extension

Fall is a good time to check for noxious weeds and invasive species

Oriental bittersweet tree branches
Oriental bittersweet

Midwest residents may be seeing vines in area woodlands and field edges this fall with red berries and orange or yellow seed capsules. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) is native, and has orange seed capsules with the seed clusters near the tips of the branches. Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is non-native, and has yellow seed capsules with the seed clusters forming along older branches. Oriental bittersweet is an invasive plant and should be reported and eradicated when found.

This fall, people are asked to check their property for weeds that are new, different or have spread. Identify these plants, then develop a management plan for any invasive plant species that are on your property.

Why get rid of noxious and invasive plants?

Noxious and invasive plants are economically and environmentally damaging. Minnesota property owners are responsible for controlling noxious weeds on their property. Many noxious weeds seed in the fall and are noticeable in ditches, woodlands and field edges.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation developed a helpful booklet that reviews identification, biology, habitat and management practices for all Minnesota noxious weeds. University of Minnesota Extension also has web resources for weed identification and management.

Invasive species are species that are not native to Minnesota and cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a list of terrestrial and aquatic organisms that are considered invasive species.

Noxious weeds are regulated by the state. The Minnesota Noxious Weed Law defines a noxious weed as an annual, biennial or perennial plant that the Commissioner of Agriculture designates to be injurious to public health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) oversees and counties enforce the noxious weed law. There are 41 plant species on the noxious weed list.

Four categories of noxious weeds in Minnesota:

  • Prohibited Eradicate: These species are not currently known to be present in Minnesota or are not widely established. These species must be eradicated, meaning all of the above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed. Additionally, transportation, propagation or sale of these plants are prohibited except for disposal or by permit.
  • Prohibited Control: These species are established throughout Minnesota or regions of the state. Species on this list must be controlled, meaning efforts must be made to prevent the spread, maturation and dispersal of any propagating parts, thereby reducing established populations and preventing reproduction and spread. Additionally, transportation, propagation or sale of these plants are prohibited except for disposal or by permit.
  • Restricted: These species are widely distributed in Minnesota and are detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property, but whose only feasible means of control is to prevent their spread by prohibiting the importation, sale, and transportation of their propagating parts except for disposal or by permit.
  • Specially Regulated: Specially regulated plants are plants that may be native species or non-native species with demonstrated economic value, but also have the potential to cause harm in non-controlled environments. Plants designated as specially regulated have been determined to pose ecological, economical, or human or animal health concerns. Plant specific management plans and or rules that define the use and management requirements for these plants will be developed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for each plant designated as specially regulated.

Gary Wyatt is an Extension educator with a focus on agroforestry and bio-energy based at the Mankato Regional Office.

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