Keep a sharp eye out! Noxious weeds, like many other invasive species, begin their unwanted stay on your property mostly unnoticed.
Two or three plants will show up, and not knowing what they are, you might say: "Well, let's just wait and see what blooms, so I can identify them." Or you might say: "I'll get those plants pulled one of these days."
Uh-huh, right. Time has a way of being filled by other things. Fast-forward to the following year: The original plants have produced seeds and expanded their territory. It would have been so easy to pull those three, young starthistle or leafy spurge plants before they matured, went to seed and increased your workload tenfold.
It's important to recognize the noxious weeds we have in our area in all their life stages, including the seedling stage. These plants often are most vulnerable and easy to treat when they're small.
Seed production is only one way weeds multiply. Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), a beautiful hydrophilic living along Bear Creek and the Rogue River, can produce up to 2.5 million tiny seeds per plant annually. Yellow starthistle will produce only about 10,000 in the same time period.
Some plants, such as Canada thistle or Scotch broom, tighten their stranglehold by sending out sprouting roots. Others, such as Japanese knotweed, continue to sprout from broken limbs or plant parts.
Yup, we've got them all in our little piece of heaven.
The Internet is a powerful tool, capable of bringing forth pictures of and information on many of the noxious weeds we have in our backyards. A good site is http://oregon.gov/ODA/PLANT/WEEDS/index.shtml.
If you're a more tactile person, a book I've found quite useful is "Weeds of the West." Also remember: If you use herbicides, read and follow labels precisely.
The city and county have many priorities, so don't be mistaken in thinking that road frontage that abuts your property will be taken care of by someone else. Remember, you can suffer from lack of weed control along roads adjacent to your property, and your land can lose value unless you take charge. The city and county appreciate your help.
The fourth annual Let's Pull Together event is planned for June 16 in Jacksonville Cemetery (park below in the Britt Festivals overflow parking area and walk up) by the Jackson County Cooperative Weed Management group. Local weed experts will help identify young yellow starthistle, Scotch broom and possibly puncturevine plants. You'll pull a few weeds (in your new, free, "Let's Pull Together" T-shirt), visit with friends and then enjoy a free barbecue.
Botanists and weed experts from various agencies and groups will be on hand to answer questions pertaining to unwanted plant pests, and many handouts will be available.
Jacksonville resident Bob Budesa oversaw the noxious weed program with Medford District BLM and helped start the Jackson Coordinated Weed Management Area. Reach him at 541-326-2549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.