Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc.


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Natural Holiday Decorations

teasel and phrag 2 smallCourtesy of our native winter landscape

It’s the Ho-Ho-Holidays and let’s make an effort this year to encourage the use of native plant species for decorating our homes, businesses and public areas. Unfortunately, invasive plant species such as oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata), baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) and teasel (Dipsacus spp.) are often favored for decorating because they look festive in bouquets, wreaths, and with evergreens in holiday planters.

Pine spruce red osier and pineconesIf, while shopping, visiting and celebrating this season, you happen upon these or other invasive species used in public or private holiday arrangements, please take the opportunity to tactfully explain to the owner that they are not good choices because they often hold viable seeds that can unintentionally spread the species. Ask that the invasive plant material be disposed of properly and offer ideas for festive native alternatives such as red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), native club moss or ground pine (Lycopodium spp.) and winter berry (Ilex verticillata). Many grocery and garden stores offer these native species. Speckled alder (Alnus incana), and common carrion-flower (Smilax herbacea) also make great native decorating choices. Alder has extraordinary tiny fruiting structures that look like miniature pine cones, while carrion-flower fruit clusters are spectacular globes that dry very well and can last for years when stored properly.

Smilax-herbacea-1-RHWAlnus rugosa Cone1Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to get outside and gather some native moss, pinecones, branches, fruits, vines and twigs from their own winter landscape to design natural holiday decorations for their homes.

Proper disposal methods for invasive plant materials can be found at:

You can also report the use of invasive plant materials in southeastern Wisconsin year-round to SEWISC at: or directly to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at:  



SEWISC 5th Annual Symposium

Examining economic impacts of invasive species

PB140002Our 5th Annual Invasive Species Symposium was held on November 14th at Havenwoods Environmental Awareness Center in Milwaukee. The audience enjoyed listening to this year’s guest speakers who discussed the economic impacts of invasive plant and animal species.

Brian Swingle (Executive Director Wisconsin Green Industry Federation) described the impacts of invasive species on our Wisconsin Nursery Growers and the measures used to gradually phase out the sale of state-regulated species. William Provencher, Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics University of Wisconsin-Madison, shared his research involving the effects of milfoil invasions on northern Wisconsin lake property values.

Symposium attendees also visited with four exhibiting organizations and enjoyed local food refreshments and apple cider courtesy of Beans & Barley Market and Café, Milwaukee WI.

TDSCN1506he SEWISC Board of Directors chose Sherry Speth from Sheboygan Falls as the recipient of SEWISC’s 2012 Sweat Equity Award. Sherry was nominated for the award by colleagues Jim Buchholz (WDNR Kohler-Andrae State Park Property Supervisor) and Jim Burkard (Vice-President of the Sheboygan County Master Gardeners). Sherry’s volunteer service has been invaluable to many local organizations including Kohler Andrea State Park, the University of Wisconsin Sheboygan Campus and Bookworm Gardens, which is a 2-acre children’s play garden that enhances literature and gardening. With teammate and husband, Dave, they volunteered 32 hours each and drove nearly 700 miles to collect invasive species data in both Lima and Wilson Townships during SEWISC’s 2011 and 2012 roadside surveys. Sherry also serves as Secretary and President of the Sheboygan County Master Gardeners Board of Directors. Her knowledge, skill and enthusiasm have earned her great respect in the community. Congratulations Sherry!

2012 Invasive Plant Roadside Survey:

Data entry in-progress

Symposium MapWe are currently processing the tremendous amount of data submitted by 122 volunteers who participated in SEWISC’s second roadside survey. Citizen scientists collected location and population size data for wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and also fine-tuned the 2011 reports for common and cut-leaved teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris and D. laciniatus), common reed grass (Phragmites australis) and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). The survey was among 18 projects selected for assistance through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2012-13 Citizen-based Monitoring Partnership Program. Additional funding for survey coordination was provided by the US Forest Service.

Due to the short flowering period of wild parsnip, survey teams only had a few weeks to conduct their searches this year which conflicted with the vacation plans of many volunteers. As a result, several 2011 teams recruited friends, colleagues and family members to conduct the 2012 surveys and 47% of our volunteers were new recruits! Thanks to the 181 volunteers who have donated more than 2,500 hours and drove, hiked and biked nearly 26,000 miles through their neighborhoods over the past two years to identify and map these problematic species. We also want to thank our County GIS Departments and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission who eagerly supplied the volunteers with township maps.

In 2013 we will be looking for teams to help collect missing data in the Walworth County townships of Lafayette and East Troy and in the Sheboygan County townships of Russell, Greenbush, Lyndon, Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls. Populations of all 5 species have yet to be mapped in the Walworth townships while only wild parsnip data is missing in those Sheboygan County townships. If you would like to volunteer to help map the missing data in 2013, please contact us at: . The results of the survey will be summarized soon on our website. You will also have opportunities to help control these populations in 2013 so stay tuned!

Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference

2012 event summary

Following two successful, regional invasive species conferences in 2008 (Duluth) and 2010 (St. Paul), the renamed Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference 2012 (UMISC 2012) with expanded geographical coverage was held in late October at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. With over 500 attendees from 10 states, the event was one of the largest gatherings of professionals, academics, and citizens in the Upper Midwest to discuss the challenges associated with invasive species and opportunities for managing their spread. Conference sessions covered aquatic, terrestrial, animal, plant, insect and interdisciplinary topics. With nearly 200 oral and poster presentations, unique workshops and tours, and plenary presentations from the region's leading experts, there was something for everyone to learn!

UMISCThe purpose of UMISC 2012 was to exchange information on invasive species topics and improve land management. This was an all-taxa conference covering invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants, animals, pests, and pathogens. The overall goals of the semi annual conference are to strengthen awareness of invasive species issues, prevention, and management, and to facilitate information sharing and collaboration.

UMISC 2The Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin, the Midwest Invasive Plant Network, the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council and the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council hosted this year’s event. Conference attendees had the opportunity to visit with 48 sponsors and exhibitors. Conference presentations will be posted to the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s website soon (

The conference committee wants to know where you would like to attend the next Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference in 2014. Submit your choice by participating in the survey at:

Winter Management of Invasive Plants - Preparing for Next Year

Fall and winter are an excellent time to treat woody invasives (see the SEWISC Fall 2012 Newsletter, Volume 2 Number 3) but it is also the time to prepare sites for control during the upcoming growing season.garlic mustard fall 1st year

For some herbaceous invasive species, the winter months are opportunities to remove dead foliage that accumulated from the past year. This can be done via prescribed burns or by cutting species such as non-native cattails (Typha angustifolia and T. glauca), common reed grass (Phragmites australis), and Japanese plume grass (Miscanthus sinensis). Dames rocket rosetteThis form of control ultimately increases the effectiveness of next season’s foliar applications by reducing the amount of dead standing vegetation that can waste herbicide through absorption during application. There are two very important points to remember.First, if you are considering using prescribed fire to remove dead vegetation check all local and state ordinances and hire a professional if you have not been trained to use this management technique. Second, if you use mowing equipment to cut the dead vegetation, always be sure to clean your mower before transferring it to another site to prevent spreading invasive species even further.

GM dead seed headsWhen practical, fall and winter are also good opportunities to identify populations of prolific invasive species for foliar treatments and hand-pulling management in the coming spring. Invasive species such as garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis) overwinter above ground as green plants, but they can also be identified by the previous year’s dead seed heads. Dame’s rocket, which is not as well-known as garlic mustard, is a perennial and a member of the mustard family. If snow cover is lacking, it can be identified during fall/winter by its lance-shaped leaves that form a basal rosette.

Maintaining the diversity of our native ecosystems in Southeastern Wisconsin requires year-round management of invasive species. Fall and winter seasons offer several opportunities to effectively locate and select invasive species for management in the coming growing season. Effective inventories and pre-treatment planning over the next few months will save you time and money, as you gear-up for the 2013 invasive species management campaign.