Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Illinois Invasive Species Symposium - now available as a live webcast

The 2014 Illinois Invasive Species Symposium is now going to be available for viewing as a live webcast.  

The webcast can be viewed at

We will be broadcasting from 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM on Thursday, May 29th.  If you would like to ask a question during any of the discussions as they are happening,  please send an email to  Following the event, we will be posting the webcast and the results of our discussions on our website for additional public comment.

This event is a one-day, all-taxa symposium that features a great lined up of speakers to give presentations on invasive plants, diseases, insects, and animals. 

To see a full list of the day's presentations, please see the agenda HERE.

Illinois Invasive Species Symposium
May 29th, 2014 9:30-4:00
IDNR Office Building - Springfield, IL
One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702

The meeting is free to attend (lunch is on your own) and will include a ceremony for this year's Invasive Species Awareness Month Awards.

While the meeting is no cost and no registration is required, we ask that you let us know if you plan on attending this symposium in person by emailing  Webcast viewers do not need to register, just go to the webcast page during the broadcast times.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Illinois Invasive Plant Phenology Report - May 16, 2014

We are starting a new series here to the Illinois ISAM Blog.  From time to time, we will be reporting on the development of invasive plants across Illinois, informing readers about what is in bloom, leafing out, setting seed, senescing in different regions of the state.

Feel free to add to the knowledge by emailing and letting me know what the plants are doing in your area of Illinois.

Phenology Report for May 16, 2014
(Contributors include Cathy McGlynn, Karla Gage, Marilyn Leger, Jody Shimp, and Mike Daab)

Southern Illinois
  • Princesstree, Paulownia tomentosa – Is in full bloom right now.  Mature trees are easily identified by the dense purple flowers.  Keep an eye out for this species on rocky bluffs, ridge top, barrens, and other dry disturbed sites.
  •  Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata – Is in full seed development right now.  You could still find some flowers on this species right now, but the majority of the plants have green seed pods.  These seed pods are long, thin and are upright on the plant.  The seed pods have not yet dried, so pulling and bagging the plants is still an option for control.  Look for garlic mustard in wooded areas across the region.
  •  Black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia – Is just past full bloom right now.  You can still identify this tree species by its dropping clusters of white flowers, but it is starting to be past bloom.  Some of the trees will have flowers that are starting to yellow or be obscured by emerging leaves
  •  Chinese yam, Dioscorea oppositifolia – Is emerging now and starting to elongate.  With the onset of warmer weather, this species is now starting to put on a lot of growth.  Vines can be found easily now with multiple leaves.  The heart to fiddle shaped leaves can be easily identified by the purple-red coloration where the petiole meets the leaf.  This plant has not yet started to produce its bulbils (asexual reproductive structures) and likely won’t for a month or so.  Look for Chinese yam along streamsides, ditches, and other mesic-to-wet forest sites or areas with disturbance.
  •  Japanese stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum – Is germinating right now.  You can easily find young, single-lead germinates of stiltgrass carpeting the forest floor in invaded areas.  This germination will continue for a while, so control treatments that do not include a pre-emergent herbicide should be delayed for another month or so.  
  •  Bush honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii – Is just coming into bloom right now.  In a week or two this species will be in full bloom. The fragrant white flowers turn yellow with age and can be found in pairs along the stems of mature bush honeysuckle shrubs.  This plant can grow in most area wooded environment.
  • Winged burning bush, Euonymus alatus - Has flowered and fruits are just beginning to form.
  • Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense - Flowers are beginning to form but have not opened yet.
Central Illinois
  • Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana - Past full bloom.  A few scattered blossoms yet.
  • Garlic Mustard, Allaria petiolata - Full bloom, just beginning to form seed.  Slightly further north, no seed formation in evidence
  • Autumn Olive, Eleagnus umbellata - Full bloom throughout the east central Illinois region
  • Bush Honeysuckle Lonicera maackii and others - Beginning to bloom to the occasional bush in full bloom
  • Sweet Clover, Melilotus officinalis, M. alba - Well-formed, bushing out, forming buds
  • Field Mustard, Brassica rapa - in full bloom along roadsides and in fields
Northern Illinois

  • Eric Smith reports from SouthCentral Illinois that Dames Rocket is starting to bloom and Oriental bittersweet is starting to bud
  • Jim Alwill reports from NorthWest Illinois that IDOT is starting to spray teasel rosettes along the ROWs
  • Mark Brown reports from Southwest Illinois that garlic mustard has fully formed seed pods, sericea lespedeza is starting to emerge, bush honeysuckle is in full bloom, and mimosa is just starting to leaf out

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Illinois Stop the Spread = Planting Success

Story by Jennifer Behnken

     Earlier this year, the Callery pear (also known as Bradford pear) was featured as a potentially problematic tree for land managers and residents alike. This ornamental pear species is escaping into the wild and potentially becoming an invasive species. This problem is occurring across the state of Illinois, even as ornamental pear species are continuing to be used as a landscape plant along streets, sidewalks, businesses, and residential lands. The need for high maintenance pruning combined with Callery pear's short life span and proneness to splitting indicates increased frequency in tree replacement and potential strain on city tree management budgets.

     Many partnering organizations have united to bring awareness to these issues and establish the Illinois Stop the Spread! campaign. This campaign, adopted from Missouri's efforts, will provide a positive solution to the problem of the Callery pear by identifying and promoting available species of native trees which consumers, landscapers, and city planners may select as alternatives. These alternative native species were planted and displayed for all to see in a community demonstration area at Attucks Park and Green Earth, Inc. Pyles Fork Preserve in Carbondale, Illinois.

Jennifer Behnken, SIU Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator welcoming volunteers

Demonstrating the correct
planting technique
     The day of the planting arrived with warm weather, blue skies, and eager volunteers. Approximately twenty-five people took time out of their busy schedules to participate in our planting event. Volunteers included forestry students from Southern Illinois University, Green Earth members, local residents, and Illinois Stop the Spread! partners. The event started with a welcome and description of the campaign's objectives followed by a tree planting demonstration and overview of proper planting methods provided by Jennifer Behnken, SIU Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator. Volunteers then strapped on their gloves, grabbed a shovel, and immediately set to work. Although the ground was saturated from a previous rain event, everyone sunk their shovels in the soggy clay soil and put their backs into it. Each tree was planted with thoughtful efforts, grunts, and smiles.

     Randy Montgomery, the grounds supervisor from Carbondale Park District, watered the trees, thanks to a watering tank donated by Nancy Garwood from the Illinois Native Plant Society. The volunteer crew set to work hauling woodchips to the trees, donated by a local tree service. A caravan of wheelbarrows traveled back and forth from the woodchip pile with Jesse Riechman, coordinator of the Southeastern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association and chair of the Illinois Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, taking the lead with his ATV and trailer. Thanks to those who photographed our event, including Karla Gage, Coordinator of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, and Lisa Thomas, Green Earth volunteer. Thanks also to Nathan Speagle from Green Earth, for providing a free lunch and refreshments to nourish the bodies of hard-working volunteers!

     All in all, thirty-seven trees of fifteen different species were planted. Their container sizes ranged from 3-gallon to 20-gallon, hence the need for individuals with strong muscles and backs. To visit the planting, please visit Attucks Park at 800 N. Wall St. in Carbondale, Illinois. This is a volunteer project and as such, we are asking for your help. Please consider donating to Green Earth Inc. to supplement our efforts (visit Funds will be used to offset costs of printing outreach materials which will be free to the public, as well as materials for tree maintenance, such as fertilizer and mulch. Even one dollar can go a long way; all support is greatly appreciated!

     Stay tuned for the next planting installment in the fall to include more native tree and shrub species and interpretive signage implementation in May 2015. Many heartfelt thanks to those that have made this project possible! We hope it serves as a template to generate grassroots efforts towards deterring the spread of Callery (Bradford) pear trees and the beginning of a statewide awareness program. Consider alternatives to plant in your backyard and help Illinois Stop the Spread!

"Illinois Stop the Spread local partners, to date, are: Carbondale Park District, Green Earth, Inc., Illinois Forestry Association, Illinois Native Plant Society, the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan - Invasive Species Campaign, Keep Carbondale Beautiful, the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc., Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the Society of American Foresters, and the University of Illinois Extension."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Governor Quinn Proclaims May "Invasive Species Awareness Month"

Illinois Residents Urged to Help Combat Invasive Species 
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation declaring May to be “Invasive Species Awareness Month.” The proclamation will promote awareness of the damage caused by invasive species and encourage Illinois residents to become more involved in combating invasive species and preventing new ones from being introduced.

Invasive species usually are non-native species that can invade an ecosystem causing ecological or economic harm. Without the factors that kept them in check in their native environment, invasive species can multiply rapidly, displacing native plants and animals and degrading habitat. Habitat loss and competition from invasive species are the primary reasons plants and animals become threatened or endangered.

“Invasive species threaten prairies, woodlands, lakes and streams in all corners of Illinois,” Gov. Quinn said. “We must fight to keep these invaders from damaging our natural areas and our economy.”

This year’s theme is “Invasive Species Affect Everyone.” Anyone who lives, works or spends time outside in Illinois is affected by invasive species. All citizens can help combat the introduction and spread of invasive species in the state.

“Everyone is aware of the devastating effects Asian carp have on our river systems,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller. “What many people may not know is there are many more invasive species of plants and animals that threaten the natural character of our state.”

Invasive plant species like garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle, Japanese stiltgrass, autumn olive and buckthorn compete with native species and reduce biodiversity. The emerald ash borer, a tiny metallic green beetle native to Asia, is responsible for killing millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada.

The zebra mussel, round goby and Eurasian water milfoil have a negative effect on aquatic systems, while feral swine (wild hogs) damage wildlife habitat and spread disease. Learn more about these and other invasive species at:

The IDNR Division of Natural Heritage reports that animals and plants not native to Illinois at the time of European settlement are considered exotic species. Many species of exotic plants are harmless and very useful in windbreaks, landscaping, and in preventing erosion.  However, a handful of exotic species do have the potential to invade natural communities and displace highly desirable native species.

“Employees of local, county, state and federal agencies, assisted by volunteers throughout Illinois, work together to eradicate, manage or control invasive plants and animals on the ground and in our waterways,” Miller said. “Gov. Quinn is committed to working with conservation groups and state agencies to make all Illinoisans aware of the impacts of invasive species – and the environmental and economic costs we face if we lose the battle to control them.”

Increasing public awareness of invasive species is an essential goal because prevention and early intervention are the most effective and cost efficient approaches to address the economic and ecological impacts of exotic invasive species.

About 100 events are planned statewide to allow citizens to participate in Invasive Species Month Awareness Events. For more information, and to see a list of events, visit:

To view the Governor's Proclamation: