The Enemy: Rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea L.) Strategy: This perennial plant has infested several million acres in Idaho, first found in the early 1980s as a 5-acre patch near Horseshoe Bend. Stem leaves are small, inconspicuous and narrow, thus giving the plant its skeletal appearance. Flowering heads are found scattered on the branches, approximately a half-inch in diameter. It resembles an alfalfa plant after grasshoppers have stripped all the leaves. To tell the difference, look at the base of the stems: If the stem has small, downward-shooting red hairs on the lower 3 to 4 inches, it is this noxious weed. One can also look for the white, milky latex produced if the stem is broken. Attack: The dandelionlike seeds float in the air for many miles. It is not foraged upon and invades rapidly, which like in the Boise National Forest adds to its ability to destroy an ecosystem. It’s found in many disturbed sites and roadsides. It can be seen along interstates and highways as the draft from vehicles will create enough of a wind movement to send the seeds into the updraft of warm air. Defense: Mechanical control of this plant is difficult. Deep roots that make it so that the growing parts of the roots are not destroyed if not entirely removed. Few biocontrols work well against it, but it is a tool. Herbicides such as Milestone, Method, Tordon 22K or Transline are most effective when used in the fall or early spring. Hand-harvesting the plants in late summer will keep the seeds from spreading, then in early fall treating the sites with herbicide is the most effective method of control.

The Enemy: Rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea L.)

Strategy: This perennial plant has infested several million acres in Idaho, first found in the early 1980s as a 5-acre patch near Horseshoe Bend. Stem leaves are small, inconspicuous and narrow, thus giving the plant its skeletal appearance. Flowering heads are found scattered on the branches, approximately a half-inch in diameter. It resembles an alfalfa plant after grasshoppers have stripped all the leaves. To tell the difference, look at the base of the stems: If the stem has small, downward-shooting red hairs on the lower 3 to 4 inches, it is this noxious weed. One can also look for the white, milky latex produced if the stem is broken.

Attack: The dandelionlike seeds float in the air for many miles. It is not foraged upon and invades rapidly, which like in the Boise National Forest adds to its ability to destroy an ecosystem. It’s found in many disturbed sites and roadsides. It can be seen along interstates and highways as the draft from vehicles will create enough of a wind movement to send the seeds into the updraft of warm air.

Defense: Mechanical control of this plant is difficult. Deep roots that make it so that the growing parts of the roots are not destroyed if not entirely removed. Few biocontrols work well against it, but it is a tool. Herbicides such as Milestone, Method, Tordon 22K or Transline are most effective when used in the fall or early spring. Hand-harvesting the plants in late summer will keep the seeds from spreading, then in early fall treating the sites with herbicide is the most effective method of control.

To learn more, call Bonneville County Weed Superintendent Jeffrey Pettingill at 208-529-1397 or email weeds@co.bonneville.id.us.

To learn more, call Bonneville County Weed Superintendent Jeffrey Pettingill at 208-529-1397 or email weeds@co.bonneville.id.us.

Load comments