Fact Check: Invasive plant spreading around town

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)—Be on the lookout! That’s the word from some neighbors in our area. They claim an invasive plant is spreading in town, and they need your help to stop it. Is this true? News10NBC’s Nikki Rudd has a fact check.

The plant in question is called swallow-wort. Great name, right?

Someone recently posted online saying, "The pods are out now. If you see pods, please consider pulling and destroying in trash."

Swallow-wort is a perennial climbing vine. News10NBC found it in several places around town including in Webster and Irondeqouit. It is an invasive plant species, and there are two types. (http://nyis.info/invasive_species/swallow-wort/) Experts say black swallow-wort is native to the western Mediterranean region. Pale swallow-wort came from Ukraine and southeastern European Russia.

Their seeds are spread by the wind. Monarch butterflies lay eggs on swallow-wort, but the hatched caterpillars can’t eat the plan and will die.

News10NBC reached out to the DEC. Officials there say swallow-wort has become especially problematic in Wayne and Monroe Counties.

So when it comes to the claim of an invasive plant spreading in our area – that is a fact.

What can you do to stop the spread? Here’s what the DEC has to say:

"As far as control, when the seed pods are dried out and the seeds inside are viable, crushing it with your hand would continue to spread the fluffy seeds. One control method would be to bag the seed pods, destroy them, and dispose of them in a landfill. It is recommended to solarize them especially if the pods are green. Seed pod removal is not a permanent solution. The plants would need to be removed mechanically by removing the root systems (as much of the root crown as possible), or with chemical spray mainly. If digging, all plant parts would need to be disposed of as well to not further spread the invasive."

News10NBC found out the DEC is doing swallow-wort control on several state properties in the region including Rush Oak Openings. DEC crews are doing chemical treatments but have also pulled pods on newly found infestations. DEC’s treatment also includes collecting pods in trash bags and solarizing.

Click here for more information on swallow-wort from the New York Invasive Species website.

Click here to see The Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management or PRISM website.


Check out other Fact Checks here. If you have an idea for Fact Check, email Nikki Rudd at nrudd@whec.com.