Volunteers Needed for Conservation Commission’s Purple Loosestrife Mapping Project
Purple loosestrife, an attractive but invasive wetland species, poses a serious threat to our native wetland plants, and has been documented in all but three counties in Maine. The Commission would like evaluate the extent of loosestrife infestation in the Scarborough Marsh watershed by identifying and mapping the location of loosestrife colonies. The information collected by volunteers will help the Commission decide whether or not it is necessary to join a regional loosestrife control program.
Anyone who would like to help with this project should call Stephanie Cox (799-4012) or the Clerk’s Office at 883-4301 to get a volunteer packet. Packets include a town map, fact sheet with color photo of purple loosestrife, and directions for conducting the survey. Volunteers will be asked to mark maps to show locations of suspected stands of purple loosestrife and rate them on a scale of 1 to 3. No previous survey or scientific experience is required – it’s a great project to do with kids.
Purple loosestrife is a perennial herb, characterized by striking purple flower clusters, that are spike-like and as tall as 20 inches. Blooms appear in southern Maine in July and continue to bloom into September or October. Loosestrife is found in wetlands and also occurs along streams, riverbanks, and the shores of lakes and ponds. Similar to the invasive reed phragmites, loosestrife flourishes in wetland habitats that have been disturbed or degraded. It is also not uncommon to find it growing ditches next to parking lots and roads. An invasion of purple loosestrife is challenging to eradicate once it takes hold, and if unchecked leads to a loss of plant and wildlife diversity.
Contact: Scarborough Conservation Commission
Stephanie Cox, Chair (H) 799-4012