Springtime provides a great opportunity to find and report several invasive species. Since many of our native trees and shrubs have not yet started to leaf out, invasive species with either early leaf growth of early flowering can be easily found.
Here in Illinois, we have two websites where people can both view invasive species distribution maps and contribute new reports. In the Chicago region, the New Invaders Watch Program tracks invasive species that are moving in to that region. Reports of the target species can be entered at www.newinvaders.org. The Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS, www.eddmaps.org) developed by the University of Georgia, covers the entire state and all invasive plant species. This system has thousands of records for many different invasive plant occurrences in Illinois. Even with all of these records, the maps produced on this site can be incomplete, especially for new invaders. Adding your observations can help us have a more accurate picture of the distribution of invasive species and will aid in planning, prioritizing and controlling species.
Here are three species that are particularly visible in early spring.
Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)
http://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=10957 or http://niipp.net/files/niipp/files/2011/01/Callery%20pear%20homeowners%20fact%20sheet%20FINAL.pdf
Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna or Ranunculus ficaria)
This small spring empheral forb is being found in bottomland woods in northern Illinois and can impact our native wildflowers. The showy yellow flowers often lead people into thinking this is a desirable native species, but don't let its looks fool you, it is a serious invader that we do not yet have a clear idea of where it is invading in Illinois. This is a species that we definitely want more information on any infestations you know about. To learn more about lesser celandine, go to http://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=3069
This is no new invader! Unfortunately garlic mustard is widespread throughout Illinois. If you do not yet have it on your land, then you need to make every effort to keep it that way! Scouting your woods in the early spring is the best way to find new infestations of garlic mustard and will allow you to take quick action before new seeds are produced in late spring. To learn more about garlic mustard, go to http://www.rtrcwma.org/Garlic_Mustard.pdf or http://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=3005.