Tracking invasive plants in Illinois

April 29, 2012

No, garlic mustard is not a condiment for your Chicago-style dawg

I’ll bet you don’t know that Illinois was last year’s champion of the United States Forest Service’s Garlic Mustard Challenge. In fact, the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) ripped up a total of 52,606 pounds of the invasive plant. You’re probably also unaware that in May of 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed a proclamation declaring May “Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month.”

Well, Illinois is about to try to defend its title. In addition to gearing up for the 2012 Garlic Mustard Challenge, NIIPP is planning to observe the second annual Invasive Species Awareness Month. To that end, they will be offering education and outreach presentations and workshops on a variety of topics: aquatic invasive species, new and common invasive plants, and ornamental invasive plants.  Folks who are interested in hosting a presentation or workshop please should contact the NIIPP Coordinator Cathy McGlynn at 847-242-6423 or

Cathy McGlynn returns to the show this morning to talk about the work of NIIPP. You might be surprised to learn that some of the plants you see in everyday landscapes are considered invasive. For instance:

Burning Bush ( Euonymous alatus )
Callery (Bradford) Pear ( Pyrus calleryana )
Common or European Buckthorn ( Rhamnus cathartica )
Japanese Barberry ( Berberis thunbergii )
Oriental (Asian) Bittersweet ( Celastrus orbiculatus )
Purple Loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria )

Okay, you probably recognize Buckthorn and Purple Loosestrife. But the problem is ongoing, and there are always new problems. Like Hydrilla verticillata, an aquatic plant that is native to Africa. From the NIIPP website:

It first became established in the United States in the 1950’s via an aquarium dump in a Florida canal. More than half a century later Florida has no hopes of eradicating this plant, but of managing it at the expense of nearly $40 million per year.

What makes this plant an aquatic superweed?  It can grow in both low and high quality water, in water with 7% salinity, and in as little as 1% sunlight.  It reproduces vegetatively via plant parts and roots as well as turions (buds in the leaf axil that break free) and tubers (a root storage system in the bottom of lakes and ponds that can produce new plants and remains viable for 7-10 years).  More information about this species can be found at the University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants .

Hydrilla has recently been found in Wisconsin, Indiana, and in the Ohio River.  It’s arrival in Illinois is imminent. Click here to view the EDDMapS distribution map.

This is what I’m talkin’ about, folks. It might be a good idea to listen to what Cathy McGlynn has to say.

Green Home Experts Makes a Big Move

It was about three and a half years ago that I briefly had a segment on the show called Green Biz of the Week. And one of those businesses was Green Home Experts in Oak Park. At that time, they were located in a tiny space on Oak Park Avenue and had been open for only nine months.

Here we are, in 2012, and owner Maria Onesto Moran has moved her business into a larger, more open space at 811 South Boulevard. I’ve been there and I’m predicting great things for the business. In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that Green Home Experts is currently an advertiser on The Mike Nowak Show. But I would recommend them anyway.

One of the reasons is that they have created an “Eco-Garden Center” that features a lot of tools, amendments and plants that help novices and experts alike get their gardens on track. The new garden center manager, Eve Walch, brings her landscape design and horticultural expertise, not to mention prior garden center experience, to GHE.

The official launch of the Green Home Experts Eco-Garden Center is next Saturday, May 5th and here are some of the things you’ll find in stock:

— About a dozen tomato varieties
— Herbs
— Hanging baskets
— Succulents
— Perennials
— Annuals perfect for container planting
— Dr. Earth soils & fertilizers,
— rain barrels
— composters
— Earth boxes
— Even FloraTubes™ !

and more. There are a lot of events scheduled for the summer about gardening and related issues and you can find them all on the Green Home Experts Calendar.