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Yellow tuft alyssum invasive species alert—how to help

Visitors, residents and hikers in Southwest Oregon are asked to be on the alert for any suspected occurrence of yellow tuft alyssum. Learn more about the invasive plant here at OPB/Earthfix. See Forest Service and Oregon Department of Agriculture email addresses where you can report sightings or volunteer to help pull the alyssum below.

If people find alyssum or barbed goatgrass  (see note below) it’s important to not pull it and instead report the location.  Only the alyssum team members (contact information below) should do the treatments (pulling) because there’s a protocol for locating the sites, pulling and disposal methods. If people pull what they think is Alyssum, it will set the eradication program back. There could be a single plant or multiple plants.

Unlike most non-native plants, the alyssum has a natural adaptation to the unique soil conditions of Southwest Oregon and Northwest California’s botanically rich serpentine terrain. This could make the alyssum one of the greatest threat to the Klamath-Siskiyou Region’s globally significant botanical values with the exception of nickel strip mines and off highway vehicles.

Alyssum murale, one of two highly invasive alyssums, introduced into globally important rare plant habitat in the Illinois Valley by a phytomining scheme.
Alyssum murale (yellow tuft alyssum) was introduced into globally important rare plant habitat at Rough and Ready Creek and the Illinois Valley in a phytomining scheme.

While populations of the alyssum are greatest in the Illinois Valley/Rough and Ready Creek/Oregon Mountain areas, where it was actually planted and allowed to go to seed, it’s spreading. For example plants have been found down the Wild and Scenic Illinois River corridor. Those in northwest California should also keep their eye out for the invasive plant, especially the back country of the North Fork Smith River. The rampant unregulated off-highway vehicle use has a high potential of carrying seeds long distances.

Yellow tuft alyssum was introduced into the Rough and Ready Creek area and the Illinois Valley as part of a phytomining scheme that went horribly wrong. The alyssum is starting to bloom and set seed now at the Rough and Ready Creek Botanical Area and Area of Critical Environmental Concern and likely other areas in the Illinois Valley. It’s critical that any plants are pulled and properly disposed of BEFORE they set seed.

Gordon and another volunteer pulling hundreds of tiny alyssum seedlings at the Rough and Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
Volunteers painstakingly pulling hundreds of tiny alyssum seedlings at the Rough and Ready Creek ACEC. The high number of seeds the plant produces and their ability to survive on serpentine soils is why it’s so important to properly pull and dispose of the plant BEFORE it sets seed.

Here are two numbers to call – 1-866-INVADER or 541-291-2680. You can also report sighting to these Forest Service and ODA staff:

  • Stuart Osbrack <sosbrack@fs.fed.us>
  •  Carri B Pirosko <cpirosko@oda.state.or.us>
  •  Suzanne Vautier <gourdnbead@yahoo.com>
  • Cydney Szymanowski <clszymanowski@fs.fed.us>

Don’t let the starkly beautiful, nationally important rare plant habitat of the Klamath-Siskiyou Serpentine terrain go from this …

Rare rock cress (Arabis), fritillary and other serpentine adapted plant bloom in a Rough and Ready Creek rock garden.

Rare rock cress, fritillary and other serpentine adapted plant bloom in the Rough and Ready Creek Botanical Area. Don’t let this lovely rock garden of rare plants be taken over by the invasive yellow tuft alyssum.

To this …

When alyssum populations get large enough they simply take over serpentine soils. Oregon Department of Agriculture photo.
When alyssum populations get large enough they simply take over serpentine soils. Oregon Department of Agriculture photo.

There are two types of invasive yellow tuft alyssum: Alyssum murale and A. corsicum. And there’s several native plants that look similar: Siskiyou Mountain Ragwort (Packera macounii (Senecio macounii)) and Western Wall Flower (Erysimum capitatum). See an excellent photo of the Siskiyou Mountain Ragwort at Turner Photographics.

The two invasive alyssums have very different leaves but similar flowers.
The two invasive alyssums have very different leaves but similar flowers.

The flowers and flower stalk of A. murale and A. corsicum both look like A. murale. However, A. corsicum will have corsicum looking ground leaves (rosette) and A. murale looking flowers and flower stalk. They also tend to drop their leaves after blooming.

The leaves of Alyssum murale are long and linear.
The leaves of Alyssum murale are long and linear and easily distinguished from A. corsicum. However both are highly invasive and toxic to livestock and other animals.

Backcountry hikers, property owners and vistors should familiarize themselves with the plant and its blossoms and report suspected sightings. Also please do no carry the seeds into the back country or allow plants to go to seed on private property. Download ODA’s brochure for precautions to take. Watch for opportunities to volunteer and thank those working to stop the invasion.

Resources to learn more:

Note

[1] Eight volunteers and agency staff spent four hours pulling the alyssum around the Nature Conservancy Rough and Ready Creek Nature Conservancy Preserve on May 30th and more time tacklin and invasion of barbed goatgrass on the N. E. side of the Highway 199 bridge where the highway crosses Rough and Ready Creek and the Bureau of Land Management Rough and Ready Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Barbed goatgrass is another nasty invasive plant. It was like brought in during bridge reconstruction or the disturbance caused by the bridge work allow the invasive to take hold.

 

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