A closeup of purple loosestrife.

Photo Credit: Liz West / Flickr

Pretty Plant is Killing Native Species

It my look nice, but its a killer

This purple plant is pretty, but it’s actually kind of terrible

The wetlands along the shores of the Campbell River are home to all sorts of wildlife. Salmon fry, birds, and insects live here with lots of native plants.

Unfortunately, one of their prettiest neighbours is also kind of terrible.

Purple loosestrife is an invasive plant from Europe that came to North America in the 1800s. It looks amazing — its little purple flowers bloom in the summer and blow in the breeze. But nothing here eats the plant, and it has spread all across the continent.

That’s bad news for local plants and animals.

They “change the entire ecosystem of the wetland,” Callie Bouchard told the Campbell River Mirror. She works with Greenways Land Trust watershed restoration crew, a local charity that helps restore streams and wetlands.

Purple loosestrife basically takes over an area, and replaces the native sedges, cattails, and wildflowers. Unfortunately, this means there’s less for baby salmon to eat, and fewer places for them to hide.

So some folks from Greenways Land Trust, Coastal Guardians, and Nature Conservancy got together to pull out as much purple loosestrife from the wetland as they could.

And it was a real battle.

“We tackled a nice spot that hasn’t been done for a couple years,” Bouchard said, “So it’s looking really good. It’s not fully in bloom with purple.”

BC’s Healthy Watersheds Initiative is funding Greenways Land Trust’s watershed restoration crew. The program invests money in community groups to help clean up and restore streams and wetlands.

The money has allowed Greenways Land Trust to hire a full-time crew of five people.

If you want to volunteer, you can find them at www.greenwaystrust.ca or call them at 250-287-3785.