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http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1313020.html


Invasive weed leafy spurge takes hold in northern Minnesota
Associated Press

Last update: July 19, 2007 – 3:17 PM

DULUTH — A noxious weed that has plagued ranchers in the western United States is now gaining ground northern Minnesota
The weed chokes out native grasses and can kill cattle, but it's also a public health threat, said Greg Kuyava, St. Louis County agriculture inspector.

"If you rub against it, it can make you highly susceptible to sunlight and skin problems," Kuyava said. "This is probably the worst invasive weed you can have."

He first spotted the weed in tiny clumps in Duluth a decade ago. Now, "it's growing like mad all of a sudden, all over town," Kuyava said.

State law requires landowners immediately remove and destroy leafy spurge, but many don't.

Kuyava said the weed hitchhiked into northern Minnesota on grain trucks or trains from western states. It can be spread by graders and snowplows, vehicle tires and even shoe treads.

The weed is hardy, surviving on little water and in compacted soils. It seems to outmuscle almost every native plant it comes across. Leafy spurge's roots can dig 15 feet underground.

"It's rendered some land worthless," Kuyava said. "We may not have a lot of farming up here any more, but we have more horses than ever and it's going to have a big impact on hayland."

In other regions, weed experts used beetles imported from Europe to kill leafy spurge. It hasn't worked here.

"I've released thousands of beetles but they don't seem to like it here. Maybe because of the clay soil" or cold winters, Kuyava said.
 

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Leafy spurge is a big problem. IMHO however, Mr Kuyava is overstating the medical dangers of the weed. No.1 the sap of the plant (similar to milkweed) is poison to cattle,but only cattle that are starved will eat it because of the bitter taste. No. 2, humans would have to do more than brush against it to be affected, tho the sap is a irritant. The biggest danger is that it will ruin rangeland and make it nearly worthless by crowding out the grasses.
I have been fighting a patch of leafy spurge for several years. The previous owner of an 80 acres I own had planted brome grass in CRP acres and the (Government approved) brome seed was apparently contaminated with spurge seed. Spurge is rare in Kansas but some areas of wyoming, nebraska and the Dakotas are overrun with it. The University of North Dakota has a professor that is the leading expert on Leafy spurge and methods of controlling it. It can be controlled if caught before it is too widespread. Eradicating it completely is a more difficult task.
 

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I had what was identied as this in one field. Kept pulling it up at the base whenever I found any. Eventually cleared it out and haven't seen a plant for maybe five years now. Of course, it was only here and there one or two plants at a time. Not an entire field.
 

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No experience, but I've read that sheep will clear an area of the culprit.
 

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Just wait until it hits the ATV trails then watch it spread.
 

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Windy in Kansas said:
There are several varieties of spurge so proper identity is needed to see if control is actually needed.
Right. Some are even cultivated in flower beds.
 

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Sounds like Kudzu to me.
 
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