By: Punit Chohan
Purple Loosestrife: Is it a beauty or a beast?
- Lythrum salicaria L.
This plant is an origin from European descent, and has spread to North America rapidly in the wetlands. The plant was introduced both as a contaminant of European ship ballast and as medicinal herb for treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, bleeding, wounds, ulcers and sores. Purple Loose-strife grows in a wide range of habitats. These plants can reach height of 2m with 30-50 stems forming. One “mature plant” can produce more than 2 million seeds annually. Purple loose strife look very elegant but is an aggressive invader to biodiversity. This is a perennial herb with tall spikes of magenta flowers. During the summer it grows in wet areas such as marshes, swamps, and river banks.
What is the threat to Biodiversity and why is it important for people to be aware of it?
What is the cause of the threat?
Purple loosestrife is such a harsh invader, which can rapidly degrade wetlands and destroying their value for wildlife habitat. In North America, wetlands are the most biologically diverse and productive component for our ecosystem. Hundreds of species of plants, birds , mammals, reptiles, insects, fish and amphibians rely on healthy wetland habitat for their survival. Furthermore, purple loosestrife find their place in a habitat where fish and wildlife feed and seek for shelter to reproduce, becomes choked under a sea of beautiful purple flowers making it a harder place to live. Areas where wild rice grows and is harvested are degraded. An estimated 190,000 acres of wetlands, marshes, pastures and riparian meadows are affected in North America each year. As a result this creates a plentiful of economic impacts of millions of dollars.
What are the impacts of the threat to the organisms in the different kingdoms in that region?
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family Lythraceae – Loosestrife family
Genus Lythrum L. – loosestrife
Species Lythrum salicaria L. – purple loosestrife
What are anatomical or physiological characteristics of each organism that make them vulnerable to this threat?
Vascular Plants-Gymnosperms, allows vascular plants to evolve to a larger size than non- vascular plants, which lack these specialized conducting tissues and are therefore restricted to relatively small sizes.
Seed Plants- Many seed plants are large. Their seeds mature inside cones. Seeds may be carried away from the parent plant by wind, water, or animals. The seeds make it harmful for wetland and wildlife.
Flowering Plants- Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Plant that produces seeds within an enclosure, in other words, a fruiting plant. Estimated to be in the range of 250,000 to 400,000.
Dicotyledons- Leaves grow 'adult' like and again the plant is invasive destroying wetlands
Rosidae- Sub-class same as the flowering plant process
Lythraceae-620 species of mostly herbs, with some shrubs and trees. Petals being crumpled in the bud and the many-layered outer integument of the seed
Lythrum salicaria- Purple Loosestrife
What are actions that humans can take to reduce/prevent the impacts of this threat?
With your help, wetlands like this can remain healthy!
- Purple Loosestrife | Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program. Retrieved December 20, 2015, from http://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/plants-terrestrial/purple-loosestrife/
- What you can do to control purple loosestrife! Retrieved December 22, 2015, from http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticplants/purpleloosestrife/control.html
- Purple Loosestrife: What you should know, what you can do | Aquatic Invasive Species | Minnesota Sea Grant. Retrieved December 19, 2015, from http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/ais/purpleloosestrife_info