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    Author(s): Andrea Watts; Tim Harrington; Dave Peter
    Date: 2015
    Source: Science Findings 176. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (4.22 MB)

    Description

    Herbicides are primarily used for protecting agricultural crops from weeds and controlling vegetation competition in newly planted forest stands. Yet for over 40 years, they have also proven useful in controlling invasive plant species in natural areas. Nonnative invasive plant species, if not controlled, can displace native species and disrupt an ecosystem by changing soil chemical and biological properties. However, before an herbicide may be applied in a U.S. national forest, toxicological and ecological assessments and field testing are required to ensure it won’t negatively affect the landscape or people.

    In the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, scientists with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station established experimental plots to test effects of aminopyralid (a plant growth-regulating herbicide) on both the nonnative and native meadow plant species. When applying less than the manufacturer’s maximum labeled rate, researchers found the herbicide reduced the cover of Canada thistle and other nonnatives without strongly affecting native species.

    Aminopyralid, along with aminocyclopyrachlor and clopyralid (also plant growth-regulating herbicides), were also tested in a growth chamber trial for their effectiveness in controlling the germination of Scotch broom, a large invasive shrub that often reduces survival of young Douglas-fir. Spraying the soil with each type of herbicide controlled up to 90 percent of the germinating Scotch broom seedlings.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to pnw_pnwpubs@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication.
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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Watts, Andrea; Harrington, Tim; Peter, Dave. 2015. Herbicides: an unexpected ally for native plants in the war against invasive species. Science Findings 176. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.

    Keywords

    herbicide, invasive plant, native plant, Canada thistle, Scotch broom, Tim Harrington, David Peter

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