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posted: 8/30/2017 5:40 AM

Long Grove targets an invasive intruder

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  • A patch of teasel grows along Route 53 just north of Lake-Cook Road in Long Grove. Officials are hoping to spread the word to combat teasel, which is considered a top invasive plant threat and a visual blight.

      A patch of teasel grows along Route 53 just north of Lake-Cook Road in Long Grove. Officials are hoping to spread the word to combat teasel, which is considered a top invasive plant threat and a visual blight.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • A receptacle for teasel is located behind PNC Bank in the Sunset Grove Shopping Center on Route 83 in Long Grove.

      A receptacle for teasel is located behind PNC Bank in the Sunset Grove Shopping Center on Route 83 in Long Grove.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Long Grove residents are mobilizing against an undesirable intruder that has taken root on roadsides, construction sites and other locations in town.

The culprit is teasel, a common invasive plant regarded by some as one of the top threats to the village environment and the greatest visual blight in the serene community.

Introduced to North America from Europe, possibly as early as the 1700s, each plant can produce up to 2,000 or more seeds, eventually overtaking everything in its path if left unchecked.

"There's a warrant out," village Trustee Bobbie O'Reilly joked. "All you need to do is drive around and you'll see it. It's terribly invasive."

The tall, spiny plant that, in coming weeks, will be going to seed also is a concern for the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The district has been spot-treating new occurrences so they don't swell to large populations and is considering a coordinated plan to control it.

"We're just starting to begin to talk about it," said Jim Anderson, director of natural resources for the forest preserve. "How can we do this across the county and get people involved?"

Anderson said teasel is one of the top five invasive species of open habitats and rapidly spreads once it gets established.

O'Reilly helped arrange an informational workshop Monday night with the Long Grove Park District, in which teasel was described as an enemy to be defeated.

"Join us to find out what you can do to control this obnoxious plant 'bully' how to get rid of it and how to keep it from coming back," read the online invitation.

While it has been a prolific year for all plants because of the rain, the teasel population has become especially dense, said Ken Wittig, a biologist and steward whose wife, Jane, is park district president.

"It's all over the place. We see it not only as a park district issue but a community issue," said Wittig.

About 25 people attended the workshop and O'Reilly is planning a second public meeting.

"We're hoping word will spread," Wittig said. "We've encouraged (residents) to talk to their homeowners association to get together as a neighborhood."

Local efforts of that nature are what the forest preserve likes to hear, Anderson said.

"It's a big issue because it's in a lot of places," he said.

Teasel tends to grow along sunny roadsides, open spaces and in areas where the soil has been disturbed, like construction sites.

According to Wittig, the plant begins in a rosette form low to the ground with a two-foot tap root.

The plant can remain small for two or three years until the root gains enough energy to produce a prickly flowering stem that can reach six feet or more.

"You have to look for it when it's very young," he said.

Teasel has been flowering since July and will begin to drop seeds in a few weeks. The plant dies after that, but care must be taken to capture the seeds to avoid new growth.

The village has made two disposal sites available.

Visit lgparks.org/education/invasive-species/ to learn more.

"It's going to have to be a voluntary program that everyone has to pitch in to get addressed," O'Reilly said.

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