Public meetings on invasive weeds along the Root River

Japanese hops can grow up to 35 feet in a single growing season, infesting natural areas along the Root River. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Poison hemlock is very poisonous to humans and livestock. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Two public meetings are set for Thursday, Nov. 29, to discuss invasive plant species — such as Japanese hops — along the Root River.

The first meeting will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the MiEnergy building, 31110 Cooperative Way, City of Rushford Village. The second meeting will be held at the Houston County Nature Center, 215 West Plum Street, Houston.

The public — especially landowners along the Root River — are encouraged to drop in and leave these informal meetings as they are able. Attendees can expect to learn how to identify Japanese hops and other invasive species and why these invasive species are especially detrimental to our area.

Native to eastern Asia, Japanese hops was introduced to North America as an ornamental. Similar to other invasive plants, Japanese hops escaped cultivation and infested natural areas, out-competing native species. These vines can grow up to 35 feet in a single growing season and can climb trees and structures or form dense mats on the ground. Japanese hops is currently only found in a few areas in Minnesota, including along the Root River in Fillmore and Houston counties. The goal of state and local partners is to eradicate these infestations before the vine has a chance to spread further.

Another invasive species that will be covered at the meeting is poison hemlock. Poison hemlock is native to Europe and was also brought to the United States as an ornamental. Poison hemlock has an umbel shaped set of white flowers, fernlike or lacy leaves and stems with purple spots. It looks very similar to other plants in our area including cow parsnip, water hemlock and common elderberry. All parts of the poison hemlock plant are very poisonous to humans and livestock, which is why it is listed on the Eradicate List of the Minnesota Noxious Weed List.

Landowners along the Root River in Fillmore County will have the opportunity to sign landowner agreements for hops treatments with the Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) at these meetings if they have not done so already. Both meetings are being hosted and supported by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota DNR, Fillmore County SWCD, Houston County, and the University of Minnesota Extension.