UWS Students Tackle Invasive Plant On Wisconsin Point

By KBJR News 1

September 30, 2010 Updated Oct 1, 2010 at 1:18 AM CDT

Anyone enjoying a day on Superior's Wisconsin Point knows of its natural beauty but what many may not know...is that several acres of wild land have been taken over by an invasive plant.

It's called Spotted Knapweed and a group of UWS students is in the preliminary stages of trying to get rid of the pesky plant.

LeAnn Wallace has more.

"This is the plant right here."

The spotted knapweed made its way to America around 1890 from Europe.

Biologists say the plant is good at getting around...by latching onto automobiles, being carried by the wind or even hitching a ride on animals.

"The seeds have these bristles on them, which allow them to be dispersed by the wind," said Nick Danz, Asst. Biology Professor.

The plant blooms a pretty purple but experts say there's nothing pretty about its invasive nature.

"It produces a lot of seeds and it can germinate and establish itself extremely readily and it displaces the native plants that were growing in the ecosystem to begin with," said Danz.

Wisconsin Point has several acres full of these invasive plants...and 50 UWS students from the University's "Plants and People" course are digging them up in an effort to get rid of them.

"We got a 1 meter square here to remove all of the adult plants which are easier to spot and now we're in the process of removing the juvenile plants which are a little harder to find because they're very small," said Tyler LaRose, UWS Freshman.

"We're going to go back and measure the biomass which is a way to quantify the amount of plants that are here per square meter, we're going to do some research about the amount of seeds per plant, and we're going to look at the floral structure," said Danz.

This project is being supported by a grant that focuses on great lakes stewardship while also doing something for the greater good of the community.

"Anytime especially when you're in Superior and you have a beautiful area like this next to the lake and all that, anytime you can help out it's always great," said Andrew Clark, UWS Freshman.

The students have been bitten by the environmental bug and next week plan to go back to Wisconsin Point to pull additional Knapweed plants. The end goal of the plant pulling is to eradicate the foreign species once and for all.

The biology course at UWS will be focusing on these four acres of Wisconsin Point over the next five to ten years in an effort to fully restore it.