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Minnesota battles invasive saltcedar - ecological threat alert
Minnesota Ag Connection - 12/01/2023

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has added saltcedar to the Minnesota Noxious Weed List due to growing ecological concerns. Saltcedar, native to western Europe, the Mediterranean, and temperate Asia, introduced in the 1800s, has limited utilization in Minnesota but raises significant environmental alarms due to its presence.

Saltcedar, identifiable as a broad-leafed shrub or small tree with scale-like leaves, bears pink flowers in clusters. It grows in drought conditions, tolerates salt, and prefers sunny areas. Its deep root system, reaching down to water tables, enables it to survive in various terrains.

This invasive species has established itself in floodplains, riverbanks, and disturbed areas, often displacing native plants. One of the critical concerns with saltcedar is its ability to increase soil salinity through its salt-covered leaves. This increased salinity hampers the germination of native species, altering the local ecosystem.

The environmental impact of saltcedar extends to riparian and wetland areas. Its root system causes erosion and potential flooding, while its flammable leaf litter heightens wildfire risks. After a fire, saltcedar's rapid resprouting further promotes its spread. The plant's extensive water consumption significantly reduces available water in invaded sites, impacting both native vegetation and stream flows.

In Minnesota, saltcedar has been categorized as a Restricted species. This classification means that while eradication is not legally required, propagation and sale are prohibited. Landowners are urged to manage this invasive plant on their properties to prevent its spread into new areas.

To report sightings of saltcedar in natural settings, residents can use the EDDMapS system.

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