Orange hawkweed behind the KMXT office. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
If you’re a gardener or just a fan of plants, you’re probably familiar with some of Kodiak’s weeds.
Sunday marked the beginning of Invasive Species Awareness week in Alaska and the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation Distric t’s Project Coordinator, Blythe Brown, says we planted seeds for a lot of those species ourselves. It’s a bit of a Trojan horse situation.
“Orange hawkweed was brought into Kodiak probably in the mid-60s as a garden plant,” says Brown. “Wildflower seed mixes. Wildflower seed mixes are often the route of introduction for invasive species. They are not well-regulated, so even though it says wildflower seed mix, it doesn’t mean that they’re true native wildflowers.”
Kari Millstein is on the District’s summer field crew and says these plants dig in their roots and settle in for the long-run.
“They take over the land,” she says. “They spread out so much and take up so much space that they create a mono-culture and nothing else can survive on that land. So, you’ll just see fields covered with hawkweed and nothing else can grow there anymore, so they push out the native species, which is what we don’t want.”
But it’s not a hopeless battle.
“Something we can do to kind of help contain the hawkweed by spreading at least by seed is to pull the heads off before they go to seed and, when you do that, you gotta make sure not to just throw them on the ground,” says Millstein. “You have to put them in a bag and they will go to seed even if they’re separated from the plant, so you gotta burn them or do something to them.”
You can learn more about invasive species and how to stop them from encroaching on your flower beds at alaskainvasives.org .