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8/10/17- Alligatorweed

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

This summer has been extremely wet, especially compared to the summer we had last year. With all the standing water, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for one particularly devastating invasive species. Alligatorweed, like the critter it shares a name with, thrives in wet habitats and can create havoc for any landowner or farmer throughout the United States.

Alternanthera philoxeroides is a weed that looks like clover at a glance, but does not have the same endearing qualities as clover. It is a thick, evergreen forb with a hollow stem and leaves that are opposite from each other along the stem. It begins to flower in the summer months. The clover like flower is white and is on the end of an erect stem. Alligatorweed has no fruit and it does not produce seeds. To many people, the weed resembles succulents, with a thick, glossy looking stem. So what is the fuss? Well, as I mentioned before, Alligatorweed loves water. It can survive in streams, canals, ditches, and flooded corn fields. Once established, the weed begins to form thick mats that prohibit native vegetation from growing and also destroy wetland habitat for native wildlife. The weed spreads like wildfire because it can start producing from stem fragments that are moving through the water. It begins rooting at the nodes and then begins multiplying. Unfortunately, it is not picky about the water it lives in either. It can survive in fresh water or brackish. It also can survive in different soil types. Needless to say, Alligatorweed is VERY tolerant which makes it very hard to eradicate. Alligatorweed also can impede recreational activities like boating and swimming in areas where the weed has formed very dense mats. Unlike many of the other invasive species, Alligatorweed actually originated in South America and arrived in North America around the 1900s. After that, it moved its way across the continent from south to north.

If your land has many low lying areas with creeks and streams, you most likely have Alligatorweed thriving on your property. If you own a lake house or camp house on the river, you may also want to check for this pesky weed there. If you see that you’re a host to this aquatic invasive species, you’re in a bit of a pickle. There is no good way to eradicate the weed from wetland habitats because of how it reproduces, but it is best to try and manually remove it. Chances are it will continue to survive, but you can at least control the size of the infestation. If it is on land, it is best to treat the weed with an herbicide. In Australia, they have used flea beetles that actually eat the plant. However, the beetle only survives in temperate areas and has not been deemed effective in the United States.

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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